my retired predecessor wants to keep coming in, fake face tattoos, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My retired predecessor wants to keep coming in

I accepted my new position over a month ago. I have been in the executive administrative field for over 20 years. I was hired to replace a woman who worked this position for 32 years, although with different leaders. I can appreciate her knowledge, but she believes no one will ever be able to do this job. That’s where my issue comes in.

I trained with the current/retired assistant for 30 days, and she left less than a week ago. I was just informed she would like to work eight hours a week to make sure things are done and so people (aka, me) can ask questions. In her email to the president, she also states, “I would like to make a list every month of things Jane needs to do.” Oh my.

To put my first 30 days into perspective, here are a few incidents. During my training, she sat right next to me, day after day. I patiently listened and tolerated her watchful eye, even as I opened the mail. Trust me, I can operate a letter opener. At one point I was asked by the VP and dean of faculty to forward an email to him (he approached me in the hallway), I returned to my desk and started to forward the message, and she stopped me and asked, “What are you doing?” I told her and she said, “No, stop.” She then got up, and tracked down the VP and dean to ask if he really wanted me to forward the email. She returned to my side, approved that it was okay for me to send the it, and literally watched as I sent it. Really?

I know the president and HR director are going to ask me how I feel about her coming back a few hours a week. I need to approach this logically, kindly, and as a professional.

Yeah, that’s a terrible idea. You’ve already seen why: she’s having trouble letting go and will prevent you from doing the job you were hired to do and making it your own.

Say this when you’re asked for input: “I’d have serious concerns about being able to take full ownership of the job and make it my own if we did that.” If they seem surprised, you should add, “During our training period, Lucinda was very reluctant to let me do things on my own, even simple tasks, and it would be tough to take ownership of the role with that arrangement. It seems likely to cause a lot of confusion, and — candidly — it would be difficult to work like that.”

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2. Did our new hire take their ID photo with fake face tattoos?

I work for a large organization and we have new hire orientation every Monday. This past Monday, Security came to a couple of us in HR to see if they needed to do anything about a new hire’s badge photo. It looked like the guy had written in marker all over his face to replicate tattoos. Like Post Malone, but much worse. I asked a member of my team, who was on-site to give a presentation, if they looked real or like marker and he said they looked real, just very poorly done. The new hire didn’t have any other visible tattoos.

Now, if this person has lots of low quality but not offensive facial tattoos, that’s not actually an issue. Lots of visible tattoos aren’t the norm in our industry, but they aren’t uncommon. I have a half sleeve and some that are visible when I wear shorts (we’re a casual group!). What is more concerning is this person’s judgement if they came to orientation with marker all over their face. Our security specs require ID badges to show how an employee looks day to day, but we don’t make people get new ones if they dye their hair or start wearing glasses. This new hire’s ID photo shows all these marks/tattoos.

Is there some language we can add to our security badge form that may cover this situation? Were we being too cautious in not just asking this new hire if they had facial tattoos? We may be making a mountain out of a molehill, but we were flabbergasted!

I agree it would be incredibly bizarre judgment for a new hire to show up on their first day of work with marker all over their face … but it doesn’t sound like there’s any real cause to believe that happened. The employee who saw the tattoos in person thought they were real, and they’re probably real. That’s much more likely than someone choosing to get their ID photo taken with marker all over their face.

If there’s any doubt, though, you can solve this pretty quickly by just asking the person, “Just to be sure, are those permanent tattoos in your ID photo?” (Of course, once you say that, they’re going to worry that you’re asking because face tattoos aren’t allowed, so be prepared to clarify.)

I don’t think you need to add language to your security badge form to ward this off — because, again, it’s highly unlikely to happen. If it does, you can address it at that point and have the employee take a new photo … but in that situation, the person’s judgment is going to be the bigger issue, so adding language to the form isn’t where you would need to focus your energy.

Read an update to this letter

3. My boss told me to stop wearing a jacket with our old logo

My company gave us some light jackets last year for Christmas with the company logo on it. They are light, comfortable, and fit well.

Recently, the company went through a rebranding. They gave us some new things with the new logo on them, including a new jacket. In the meeting about the rebrand, they asked us to get rid of everything with the old logo on it.

Well, the new jacket is way too small. It doesn’t come close to zipping up and I can barely extend my arms forward. I decided I will just wear the old one because the new one doesn’t fit me (I ordered the same size as the one they gave us last year). I did get rid of everything else with the old logo on it.

My boss was upset that I was wearing the old jacket and told me I wasn’t allowed to wear it anymore. I’m not in a client-facing role. I feel that this is ridiculous because it’s not like we changed our name or got bought out by another company or something. It’s the same name, just in a different font.

I am the sole breadwinner for my family and quite truthfully can’t afford to buy a jacket without any branding on it. It’s also incredibly difficult to find clothing that fits me well because I have a kind of permanent six-months-pregnant-ish looking belly that is disproportionately big compared to the rest of my body, so I am pretty disappointed that they are saying I just can’t wear the old jacket at all at work when it fit me so well (it was also a lot lighter than the new jacket, so it was perfect for the office). Am I being overly difficult?

Typically part of rebranding is being consistent about not using an old logo anymore, so it’s not surprising that your employer is telling you not to wear the old logo items at work anymore. But even if you think they’re being unreasonable, they definitely have the standing to say you can’t do it — and yes, you’d be being overly difficult if you dig in your heels and keep showing up in the old jacket after being told not to.

If it’s not an option to order a larger size, any chance you can replace the logo on the old jacket with the new logo? Obviously that won’t work if it’s screen-printed on there, but if it’s, say, embroidered, it might be an easy job for a sewist.

4. My company will let you carry over vacation days — but it’s a secret and you have to know to ask

I was talking to my colleague in HR about this, and was struggling to explain why it felt so wrong. I’m in a systems implementation role, and I’m currently working closely with her to implement a new HRIS. She came to me to ask how we would make the following adjustments to the vacation policy.

Currently, we have a policy of not carrying over any vacation days from one year to the next (where I live, this is quite unusual, so it’s pretty mean). Now, the CFO wants to “allow people to carry over up to three days, but we won’t publicize it.” I pushed my HR contact on what that would mean, and she said people could claim hardship, or in cases where they had been sick and therefore unable to use vacation leave, or had too much vacation time left in December and weren’t able to take it, could carry over up to three days. The more I pushed, the more it felt like “anyone who has the balls to ask for it and can cobble together a vaguely coherent argument” would probably be allowed to carry over.

It feels very wishy-washy to me, and I can’t help but feel that the most likely beneficiaries of this policy will be the more senior individuals, the sales guys with confidence who believe they can charm a snake out of a basket, and anyone else with a great sense of entitlement, while the less senior, more “obedient,” and less confident (I class myself as two, if not three out of three!) will miss out.

I got upset and was trying to explain why I felt it was discriminatory, but I don’t think I had much success. Am I nuts? Is there a better argument against this than a general feeling of sadness that my friend who is an apprentice will likely never be approved to carry over, but the CEO won’t even need to explain beyond the fact they have almost twice as much holiday as the rest of us, so they need to carry over?

Yeah, that’s BS. “Had too much vacation time left in December and wasn’t able to take it” covers pretty much anyone who might want to carry over some days, no? By definition anyone interested in rolling over their days would fall in the category of “has days left in December.” It’s one thing to say that they’ll make exceptions in cases of genuine hardship, but this really does mean, as you say, “we’ll make exceptions for anyone who makes the case to us” — and it’s really bad practice to have secret policies that only benefit people who know to ask.

You’re right that it’s likely to mean that the people who ask are overrepresented in some groups (the same demographics that are more likely to, for example, successfully negotiate their salaries) and the people who don’t ask will be overrepresented in others. Also, by leaving approval to the company’s discretion, it opens the door to discrimination in who gets their requests granted and who doesn’t. You can try pointing that out, but you’re probably better off going over your colleague’s head if that’s an option.

5. What does this email from my interviewer mean?

I had a job interview last week and now I’m trying to read in between the lines to see if I’m moving forward. One of the hiring managers was straightforward with me, saying, “I’ll be in touch soon.” I sent thank-you letters to all of the panel members. I did receive two two responses promptly. However, the responses were vague. For example, “It was nice to meet you as well.” Should I read this as a positive sign or just continue my job search?

“It was nice to meet you as well” literally just means “it was nice to meet you as well.” It doesn’t mean anything about your chances either way; it’s just a normal polite response!

You are falling into the trap I wrote about at Slate last month, where you are trying to read clues in basic boilerplate language that doesn’t carry any hidden meaning.

That said, you should indeed continue your job search — not because these people are signaling in imminent rejection, but because you should always continue searching until you have an offer (and not just an offer, but an offer that you’ve negotiated and accepted and set a start date for).

{ 481 comments… read them below }

  1. Serina*

    For LW1 – It never ceases to amaze me how many letters we see about people who try to retire without actually retiring! I would find it very hard to come in as a replacement for someone who then wants to babysit you to make sure you’re doing the job the way they always did it. What surprises me more is that the company is actually considering allowing her to do this! I would be pushing back on this hard. Good luck to you.

    1. Carl*

      “I don’t care about the money, but I can’t live without the control. (Also, I have no idea what to do with myself.)”

        1. Observer*

          plus “and I really really need to feel useful to feel okay.”

          I don’t really think it’s that. Because, as others said, there are TONS of ways to feel useful. And sometimes it can actually work to have someone retire and come back for for a few hours a week. We’ve actually had at least one person who retired, and now is working a few hours a week in a lower level and it worked out well. It was someone who needs something *useful* to do, is not up to new adventures, could use a little extra cash, but is *really* not interested in the responsibility of their old job. They have been very happy to let go of the control and are working in a different position which makes use of their institutional knowledge while staying well out of the way of their replacement.

          FE (Former Employee) is a different kettle of fish, though. She’s a control freak and she’s made it clear. She is already saying that she wants to dictate the OP’s schedule and work.

          1. somehow*

            “I don’t really think it’s that.”

            But it can be that, so it’s just as possible that it’s the reasoning in this situation as any other, similar situation. I’ve worked with a couple of people whose identities were so bound to their work roles, they were lost once they retired. I find it a bit disturbing to label someone a “freak” of anything, including control, when it’s very possible that what these people feel is to be sympathized with, no matter how annoying the outward behavior.

            1. Observer*

              But it can be that, so it’s just as possible that it’s the reasoning in this situation as any other, similar situation.

              Sure. It *could* be that. But given the specific information we have, we *know* that whatever else is going on this person is a control freak who wants to maintain control. And, yes, her behavior was both bizarre, and hyper-controlling.

          2. ina*

            I think your comment is somewhat confusing: it’s not a way to feel useful but also here is an example of a retired employee coming in to work — at a lower level — instead of doing one of the tons of other ways to be useful?? One could also view this as they wanted to go back, but they wanted to be a big fish in a smaller pond with less responsibility (lots of institutional knowledge as well as experience at a higher level but at a lower level? Sounds like a good set up for someone who still wants respect and be able to call shots in a familiar environment…which is what LW’s former predecessor is setting up for themselves…)

            The reality is that people spend 8 hrs a day for 40+ years working. It is how many people feel useful. They gain a sense of attachment to their duties, a sense of identity from their field, and a sense of responsibility over their projects. In the same vein breaking up is hard to do, letting go is hard, too. You can’t just say “oh go volunteer at a food bank or other civic activity” if it’s not something they’re done before. They’re a newbie there; they’re not a newbie at work.

            Both your example and LW’s example are the same. They can’t give up work — retiring is something people dream of but when it hits, you realize you don’t know who you are outside of the company or work, but you realize you need to break away from it…phase out retirement is what some people really need. It’s just how this phase out looks that’s the issue.

            1. Observer*

              I think your comment is somewhat confusing: it’s not a way to feel useful but also here is an example of a retired employee coming in to work — at a lower level — instead of doing one of the tons of other ways to be useful??

              My point is that all that was going on was that she wants to feel useful she can either take all of those other opportunities OR they can come back in a circumscribed role. Instead she wants to come back specifically to oversee and manage the OP. That is fundamentally different from the example I described.

              1. Paulina*

                Yes. She isn’t planning to come in to act as a resource person for OP; she’s planning to come up with to-do lists for OP, as if she is OP’s boss. I understand that this job became her identity, but a key part of that identity is “everything needs to be done my way or it’s wrong.” While starting from the assumption that OP is wrong and has to be trained to do things right, instead of being a professional with 20 years of relevant experience and having actually been hired for the job. OP needs handover information, not an apprenticeship.

          3. Lydia*

            It can be all of those things. She doesn’t know how to be useful outside of this specific context because so much of her identity was tied up in her job, AND, while she was employed there, she was an aggravating control freak. People are complex.

          4. DJ Hymnotic*

            At least in my corner of the nonprofit world, “I need to be needed” is a Real Thing, and I’ve seen people with that need absolutely wreak havoc with their successors. It’s not because they have it out for whoever takes their place, but because they can’t handle that their place has been taken, which means (to them) they’re “not needed” anymore.

            I suspect there are some serious control issues going on here, but I also suspect based on details the LW provides (like her predecessor needing to go the TPTB for everything from an email forward to creating a new part-time job just for her) that this person needs her (now former) bosses to still need her. And nipping that in the bud really needs to come from those bosses to give LW the best possible chance of succeeding.

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              It reminds me of the movie About Schmidt, where Jack Nicholson’s character retires. He goes back to the office a few months later, bored and desperate, to see if his replacement needs any help or advice. Everybody just stares at him in bewilderment, with no idea what to say to him. He is not at all needed there, and you can feel him kind of leak energy as he realizes that his working life was just erased.

              1. DJ Hymnotic*

                That was such a good scene, and I’ve seen it play out (less dramatically) in my own career as well-intentioned predecessors pop up offering assistance or counsel, it’s like if codependency came in a whack-a-mole edition.

      1. Because someone had to*

        Volunteer at a food pantry, shelter, school, etc.
        Take a part time job
        Write that book you’ve been meaning to write
        Read all those books you’ve been meaning to read
        Do crafts
        Learn to plan an instrument
        Make YouTube videos
        Take a class at the Y or community center
        Plant a garden
        Get a dog

        1. CommanderBanana*

          Literally, do anything else other than trying to continue working at the job from which you retired!

          1. somehow*

            I think for some people, it’s just not that easy.

            I’m not retired, but in many conversations with people I’ve had who are, it’s a major life change to the extent that it’s bewildering, and some people simply hang on to their work life any way they can as a way to cope.

            Sometimes I think, “Oh, I can’t wait to retire!” but then have to remind myself that I likely won’t be that noble about it once the time comes. But I can’t imagine being so wrapped up in my work life that I don’t know how to let go. I feel for such people.

            1. JaneDough(not)*

              “I think for some people, it’s just not that easy.”

              Yes! I’m not in the same position as the FE who wants to return, nor do I condone her actions, but I empathize. I’m still about 1-2% not-recovered from having been laid off years ago by what I thought was my dream job — one that filled a lot of needs for me that are very difficult to fill in other ways.

              I’d rather be vague (details risk the ID’ing of the well-known former employer), but I’ll say that the job allowed me to use my skills as an artist w-o going the “create something, try to find an professional entity that will pay for my creative work” route, and that because it was a very prestigious organization it gave me a sense of being valuable. (I know that we’re all responsible for learning to value ourselves, but early family life makes that really tough for some of us.)

              This FE clearly lacks self-awareness, so instead of being open to therapy to adjust to this major change (although maybe she wouldn’t benefit from it, because some people’s defenses are just too strong), she’s seeing “return PT to work” as the only balm for her discomfort. I feel for her, but I feel more for the LW, and I hope the higher-ups will put a stop to this.

              1. goddessoftransitory*

                For some people, it is a literal lifeline. Diane Feinstein and Mitch McConnell come to mind as two people who seem genuinely terrified to retire despite clearly needing to, as though the job is using them as a puppet and it’s the only thing keeping them on the earthly plane.

          2. It's So Hard to Say Goodbye*

            I wonder why this woman retired if she wants to stay on her same job, and was not subject to mandatory retirement.

            Easy solution for OP: Management needs to reign in this not-really retired person with clear boundaries and instruction that she is NOT OP’s supervisor. Motivation and all that doesn’t matter, even though folks get hung up on it here.

            I’m older and sympathize with the retiree. It’s like empty nest syndrome and other major changes in life, one must plan and adjust. Not everyone is a travel or hobbies person. If there is an EAP, retiree should be directed there.

    2. Artemesia*

      Yes. The OP needs to have her speech ready and it needs to be very clear that this is not something that will work. And I would have a couple of anecdotes like the email one ready to go along with. It is not possible for me to do a professional job with this kind of interference.

      One thing that has impressed me about CEOs I know and Deans is that when they retire or move on, they are very careful to not meddle in their successor’s job. This is ‘transitions’ 101. That the bosses here seem oblivious to this and are considering it is a very bad sign about their integrity. The OP should be thinking about plans B and C. if they bring this woman back, she needs to find another job.

      1. Sue*

        Lots of churches have strict rules about former/retired pastors for this reason. The new hire should have every chance to succeed without their predecessor’s presence.
        It’s common sense but has to be stated because we all know how many people are lacking in that area.

          1. Fiona Orange*

            I always thought that “emeritus” was just a title meaning “retired” but didn’t carry any responsibilities.

            The pastor emeritus of a church I used to attend only preached on Sundays when the regular pastor was sick or out of town.

            1. MigraineMonth*

              My father is a professor emeritus, and so far as I can tell doesn’t carry responsibilities, but it does carry perks. So, you can keep your office, continue giving feedback on HR issues, give lectures, mentor students, etc… or you can do none of them!

              I’ve been trying to convince my father that he doesn’t need attend all the long Zoom meetings now that he’s officially retired, but…

              1. Panhandlerann*

                Well, at some universities, one can keep one’s office (or have an office in the emeritus professor “area”). At some places (such as mine), no offices are offered to emeritus professors because of space constraints. As for giving feedback on HR issues, I have never heard of that happening! Here are the perks I have as Professor Emeritus: free entry to my university’s music department performances, discounted prices on university theater productions, continued use of my university email account, free campus parking, and a faculty account at the library (so that I can continue to use library databases, order items via Interlibrary Loan, and check books out for an entire semester instead of a shorter time period). Some of this is very important to me since I have continued to do scholarly work since retiring.

                1. Artemesia*

                  The two main perks I have as Emerita are library access and email. Library is a big deal as I retired to a different city and having access to on line journals and such is an enormously valuable benefit. Occasionally emeriti who are local are asked to serve on doctoral committees and such. And if I were local I could go to the Christmas party at my dean’s home(which is actually quite a lovely event). but other than that nothing much.

        1. Overit*

          I actually know of a church whose new pastor (with the bishop’s approval) banned the former pastor from the premises. Former pastor had a new pastorate in the same city, but somehow had the time to keep returning to “help.” All of the “help” was to contradict anything the new pastor wanted that was different from before.

          (Sadly the former pastor was highly charismatic and this and other quite serious issues did nothing to slow his rapid upward movement.)

        2. Pipe Organ Guy*

          Yesterday was my last Sunday as organist at our church. When I gave my notice several months ago, the rector and I both agreed that I would lie low for awhile (several months at least), by being physically not present on Sunday mornings. The last thing my very competent successor needs is the previous organist hanging around!

          In the Episcopal church, I think there is a rule that retired rectors may not set foot in the parish from which they retired for at least a year. If there is some extenuating circumstance that comes up, the rector and the bishop both need to approve.

      2. Green great dragon*

        I would definitely mention the double checking as that’s the one bit that goes beyond LW’s own comfort. Obviously LW would be entitled to object anyway! But “and when I got an instruction from the VP she insisted on speaking to him herself! It’s going to be look very peculiar if she insists both of us have to be told about any instruction for me” is helpful because irritating VPs is an obvious problem.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          I’d personally also throw in the part about the retired employee insisting on supervising me using a letter opener to check the mail, because it shows just how deep the prior employee’s control tendencies are. I wouldn’t be willing to have to continue to be around this person either – because their failure to plan fore retirement and what they’re going to do now is not my circus or monkeys.

        2. Observer*

          But “and when I got an instruction from the VP she insisted on speaking to him herself! It’s going to be look very peculiar if she insists both of us have to be told about any instruction for me” is helpful because irritating VPs is an obvious problem.

          The OP could also point out that it’s going to mean that anything that they (VPs, etc) need done will be delayed because she’s only in 8 hours a week, which would mean that she won’t necessarily hear about stuff in a timely fashion.

          Of course, that’s not just a problem for the big-wigs, but putting into a perspective that they can personally feel will be helpful. And because she actually DID go find the VP and talk to him, no one will be able to say “come on, that can’t really be what she meant. You must have misunderstood.”

          1. Paulina*

            That the retiree clearly stated to the president that she wants to make regular lists of things for Jane (OP) to do, could make this easier to push back on. Who is OP supposed to be reporting to, in that scenario? This isn’t something that OP could have “misunderstood” that others didn’t hear, it’s something written and sent. The VP also would have been part of that interaction that the retiree inserted herself into. VPs shouldn’t have to tell the retiree what to tell OP, and OP shouldn’t have to answer to her either. She doesn’t work there any more. She does not have any privileges to tell people what to do.

          2. Artemesia*

            This is too defensive. The OP needs to be much more direct. She can cite an example or two like the ridiculous double checking on sending an email but ONLY as an example that THIS WILL NOT WORK; I CANNOT HAVE HER CONSTANTLY MEDDLING IN MY WORK. Being tactful gets you this parasite.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        I believe both Connie Willis and Lois Bujold have written about The Department Secretary in academia, and her near total control of the department under her.

        1. Paulina*

          Yes, and as someone in academia: every time I hear a senior administrator refer to their secretary / exec admin as “the one who really does everything around here”, I cringe. They know a lot, but often they are allowed to control far too much. One unit had a head who very strongly implied that certain changes weren’t being done because it would be too much work to get their head admin to make them, and she was slated for retirement soon anyway. (Did turn into actual retirement, where later visits were just to say hello. Job got restructured the moment she was out the door.)

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          Are you thinking of Willis’s story In the Late Jurassic? Love that one! And Bellwether with Pip and her non-sequitur trend statements-as-lifestyle…

    3. TG*

      I agree and if they insist I’d look for a new position because she is going to micro manage you every time she is there and her “list of things to do?” – yeah I’d be out of there if she comes back.

      1. Rose*

        She’s basically assigning herself as OP’s second manager. The question is really do you want to do the job you signed up for, or be the person who reports into that person?

        1. Artemesia*

          This. And she needs to make this clear to the boss. I took this job to do XYZ and report to you. I did not take it to work for Retired AA.

          And if they push this, you need to leave. Take your time, but make your exit.

      2. Observer*

        I agree and if they insist I’d look for a new position

        Completely. Because if she comes back, she is going to make your life MISERABLE. And you are going to be set up for failure, because it’s impossible to be flexible, timely and appropriately prioritizing if you are being nano-managed by someone who is only in the office 20% of the time. It’s just insanity.

      3. MigraineMonth*

        I was chatting with a coworker whose grandmother had made herself completely indispensable to a small organization. The classic “there for over 20 years”, “only point of contact/coordination between these roles”, “double-checks the accountant’s work even though that’s not her job”, “does 3 jobs for one paycheck”, “can’t find anyone competent to replace her”, etc.

        My coworker mentioned that the candidates to replace her seemed very incompetent, and the one she had spent *a year and a half* training (but just wasn’t very good) quit and got another job.

        I tried to bite my tongue on “I don’t think it’s the candidates that are the problem.” I don’t think I’d have lasted 6 months.

    4. Richard Hershberger*

      It goes the other direction as well. My best friend recently retired from a longtime senior role in local government. She gave ample notice. When her superiors finally got around to thinking about it, they went into panic mode and begged her to only semi-retire for a while. She leveraged this by agreeing on the condition that they replace her with an internal promotion, oh and by the way this is who they were going to promote, so that she was replaced by someone competent. Surprisingly, it worked. She is now in the semi-retirement stage. I’m not sure how long that will last, but it is not being prolonged by any inability of hers to find ways to fill her days.

    5. Oryx*

      Yes, I’m a little surprised this didn’t come up with she tracked down the VP to verify they wanted an email forwarded (unless old admin *was* told to stop and is just ignoring it).

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        It wouldn’t surprise me if she was told and did ignore it. If she was in the position for over 30 years she probably was there for most of her adult life, and possibly didn’t realize how much of her identity was wrapped up in her job. However, it’s not the responsibility of OP 1 to allow the former employee to continue to smother her or control how the job is done just to help a person who doesn’t know how to move on.

      2. Rose*

        Is be extremely nervous if I was OP about what those interactions look like.

        Is the company seeing them as red flags about the retired employee? If not, why? I’d worry it’s because she’s framing her own weird concerns as shared by OP ie “OP wasn’t sure if she should forward this email to you.”
        “What, why not?”
        “She’s not sure if she should be directly emailing the VP when she’s still so new.”

        1. Artemesia*

          Is the company seeing them as red flags about the retired employee? If not, why? I’d worry it’s because she’s framing her own weird concerns as shared by OP ie “OP wasn’t sure if she should forward this email to you.”
          “What, why not?”
          “She’s not sure if she should be directly emailing the VP when she’s still so new.”

          OMG. You are probably right which is all the more reason to use this example as one example of why THIS WILL NOT WORK.

      3. Observer*

        unless old admin *was* told to stop and is just ignoring it

        I could see that happening. But in that case you would have thought that her request would be an automatic hard no from the decision makers. It’s hard to get rid of someone like that, but *she already did the work* She retired! Why would they seriously consider bringing her back?

        1. MigraineMonth*

          It’s not clear to me from the letter if decision makers have responded yet. Hopefully they’ll be sensible.

    6. Choggy*

      Yes, this happened to me but the person leaving wasn’t doing so for 6 months, I lasted 3 months in that job. I think it’s very important, if possible, a new hire be trained by the person doing the job, but there has to also be a definitive and short end date. It sounds like the person retiring this this case feels like no one else can do the job they can.

      One of my weaknesses is having a very strong work ethic which I expect others to have as well. I am aware of this, and have been working on letting go. Not my circus, not my monkeys, a phrase I learned here and am taking to heart!

      1. Industry Behemoth*

        Me too on the work ethic and letting go. That would be a great topic for the next Friday open thread.

    7. Just Another Techie*

      My father did this. He’s a doctor and was chief of his department when he “retired” but he kept on the clinic rotation for two shifts a week, because he was bored at home. But he couldn’t just stick to seeing clinic patients — had to go nosing about, interrupting teaching sessions with students and residents, “popping in” to the new chief’s rounds, etc etc. Everyone was miserable for _years_ until Dad had a catastrophic health situation of his own and physically couldn’t get to the hospital on his own steam anymore.

      1. Lydia*

        That’s also on the staff at the hospital for not sitting him down and having that conversation. They probably thought they were being nice, but the disruption to everyone else was worse that some hurt feelings.

        1. AnonAnon*

          Agreed. The thing is, the ingrained hierarchical culture in academic medicine runs deeper than the Mariana trench. Yeah they could be being too nice; it’s also very likely that nobody felt they could speak up to the former chief.

    8. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      And LW has 20 years of experience! I’ve made an effort in the past to be more hands-off with our entry- and junior-level hires! (who then went on to do a great job on their own, one ended up being my team lead for a bit etc – which wouldn’t have happened if I’d hovered over them all day every day telling them exactly what to do and how to do it.) Kudos to LW for not running away screaming after the to-do lists comment, I probably would’ve.

    9. Sparkles McFadden*

      Oftentimes, the issue with retired people who can’t let go is that the retirement wasn’t the person’s idea. The person retired because of an agreement with a spouse or, more likely, the retirement was decided by the company. What happens in cases like this is that someone in management will feel sorry enough for the retiree to allow the person to come back for a bit to “ease the transition.” They do this because they aren’t the people who will have to suffer with the awkwardness and annoyance of the boomerang retiree.

      That all means, LW#1, that you are going to have to speak up or get stuck with someone sitting next to you, telling you how to use the telephone. Your management will probably be relieved that they have a concrete reason (besides, money, which is a pretty good reason) to say no to this request.

    10. Ama*

      It’s making me feel much better about my intention to not take any consulting requests from my current employer when I leave next year (I’m planning to go freelance in an unrelated sector but my employer has a habit of trying to keep connections with long-time employees and I suspect they’ll think because I’m freelancing I’ll welcome having some extra hours).

      My employer is particularly prone to trying to keep long tenured employees available to them when they leave and while in some circumstances its helpful to have access to someone’s institutional memory, I also think it keeps us from being able to hire effectively because our senior staff is trying to hire an exact replacement for the old employee rather than listen to how a new person might bring their own ideas and skills to a position. (The vast majority of long-time senior staff here started here as entry or mid level and were promoted — very few people hired in as senior staff seem to stay more than a couple years and a few had to be fired because they were such bad fits.)

    11. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      My first thought was that the dean and the faculty don’t know how to say no to her. They’ve been coddled/infantilized/overpowered/intimidated by her for thirty freaking years. I’m sure there are faculty members who shudder when someone writes on a post it note with black ink instead of blue:
      How do I know it’s not a xerox copy? It must be in blue.
      “but it’s a post it note.”
      That doesn’t matter.
      So yeah, OP. Say no. Be the hero they need, even if you are not the one they deserve.

      1. Artemesia*

        Our college merged with the large university next door and so the new Dean of the college occupied what was previously the president’s office. And he discovered that we had a closet full of carbon sets. A lovely man; a generous boss; a brilliant scholar — but stingy and so in the age of photo copiers he insisted they use up these carbon sets before going to copies on memos and such.

        Well the carbon sets were blue. It turned out that blue carbons were used only by the President of the larger university and his AA assumed that a coup or something must be underway when our Dean’s blue copies started appearing. The merger of colleges was a little rocky, but our Dean was new and didn’t know any of this memo signaling culture — and neither did the AA. So an innocent minginess ended up triggering a major kerfuffle.

        The effrontery of not knowing one’s place when choosing one’s carbon sets.

    12. toadcarrot*

      Not only do I read these stories here but I hear them from friends too. This is just going to keep happening as the baby boomers retire and the population ages. I think I see a new mental health specialty developing. It is tough when you are part of the last generation to have many years or even your entire career in just one field or position or organization. I think it is understandable that people would have deep parts of their identities and life purpose in this one area and have a hard time letting that go. Many (most?) people Gen X and younger have not had that experience.

    13. JSPA*

      script option 2:
      ” It’s kind of her to offer, but it would be awkward and counterproductive to have her here.”

      script option 3:
      “that’s very…loyal…of her, but I wouldn’t find it helpful.”

      script option 4: “oh dear, retirement really is hard for some people! That’s so sad. But, no. Please, no.”

    14. Past tense sneak*

      LW1 possibly is facing a social communication thing here too where they need to convey this very delicately. While I agree entirely with Alison’s sentiment I wonder whether a softer and more diplomatic wording might help?

      “Oh gosh, there’s no need for Lucinda to come back in! She was incredibly thorough when she was here and you’ve hired me knowing I also have many years in similar positions! She even checked basic things like whether I was supposed to send an email I’d been asked to! So very very thorough! If you have concerns with my work then I’d love to hear them, but right now I feel things are going well. How about we suggest gently to Lucinda that she become involved in the volunteer role over at *related NGO* and take her great skills and knowledge there, and we’ll let her know if we start sinking? Right now I feel having her back would introduce a slow down into the system, and I feel like we’re doing ok without her. Of course it will never be the same as Lucinda’s days, but I think we’re doing well enough that we don’t need her here 20% of the time over my shoulder surely?!”

  2. Observer*

    #3 – I have a lot of sympathy, but the reality is that your boss is not actually being all that unreasonable. And you really can’t dig your heels in. But, if you got the new stuff recently, go back to your boss and tell them that the new jacket doesn’t fit, and can they get you one that fits better.

    Do be prepared to explain why you didn’t tell them right away. I’d probably say something like “I didn’t realize that it would be an issue. I’m sorry.” But if you say that, do not elaborate and make it clear (or even imply) that you think they are being ridiculous.

    1. Green beans*

      there’s a really good chance that they ordered extras of everything so just tell them it doesn’t fit and ask if you can swap it out for a larger size.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        Yes, this. Sizing is wildly inconsistent and it’s not surprising that the new jackets are sized differently than the old ones. It may feel awkward to the OP, but I promise it’s very common for folks to ask for different sizes after realizing their initial order doesn’t fit.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        This. Sizing is practically meaningless across clothing makers; I would bet they’ve gone with a new vendor with nary a thought about what XL or S or whatever means in the context of the new stuff they’re ordering.

        If the PTB want the new branding consistently (perfectly reasonable) they have to be reasonable about making sure a piece of clothing worn every work day is a good fit.

    2. Dragon_Dreamer*

      You could wear the old branding outside of work, but only outside of work. I was given new volunteer shirts for the museum in a new color, but wear the old color ones as regular t-shirts on my days off.

      1. Gerri’s Jaunty Hat*

        Yes, don’t literally get rid of the old jacket, just don’t wear it to work. Sending it to the landfill just because of a branding change would suck!

    3. Green great dragon*

      Yeh, I think the one thing you are on solid ground about is that the new jacket didn’t fit because the sizings are different, so you should ask for a new one that does. I get that it probably won’t fit as well as the old one, but better than nothing?

      1. Mel M*

        After my dad retired he bought a bunch of inexpensive patches and got my mom to sew them over the work branding on the work clothing he still liked.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          This! I have some logo wear I’m doing this with… once I could stop dithering and order an iron-on.

        2. Trout 'Waver*

          I’m probably too snarky. But if I requested an appropriately sized jacket and was denied one, I’d just put a strip of duct tape over the logo on the old correctly sized jacket.

          And maybe draw the new logo on it if I felt particularly snarky.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            If it’s embroidered it’s also usually not too difficult to use a razor on the back of the embroiderly and then pull all the strings out with tweezers. It’ll take 20 minutes (or more if it’s a lot of logo) but most likely, after washing the garment it won’t look holey.
            Or attach a patch bigger than old logo over it and voila, now it’s just your jacket, not a work branded jacket.

          2. MigraineMonth*

            I wouldn’t go the duct tape route, but I’ve had some success removing branding from clothing (e.g. acetone to remove screen-printed logos). Wearing the old jacket with no logo is less likely to be a problem.

        3. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          This is what I do with hubby’s branded clothing he gives me. He doesn’t like it but some of it is really nice. So I just put a patchover the brand and I am good to go.

          But OP – definitely ask for the right size. That is the easiest solution to the whole thing.

        4. Ann O'Nemity*

          I wish I would have done this. I had the nicest Patagonia fleece vest with my old company’s old branding. I hated retiring it!

        5. Office Lobster DJ*

          I agree — if they aren’t up for giving you a new jacket, figure out a way to obscure the old logo with a patch or ripping out the embroidery or something.

        6. Kwsni*

          This is what I would do. Sewing a patch, even a big one on the back of a jacket, will be much easier than removing machine embroidery. Plus, you keep wearable clothing out of the landfill or a disadvantaged country, and you get a customized jacket.

    4. Libellulebelle*

      As an alternative to getting a sewist to pick out the embroidery (if any), would it work to purchase a sew-on or iron-on patch that would cover up the old logo, with any design that you fancy? As far as I could tell from your letter, you are not required to wear a branded jacket, so this would now be a “civvie” jacket that just happens to be the exact same as your old branded jacket, just with a new flower/funny cat/Turkish tile pattern/whatever.

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        That’s a great idea! It’s probably a lot easier to transform an old branded item into a non-branded item – plus you avoid the chance of going through the hassle to incorporate the new logo only to be told that non-official uses of the logo aren’t permitted.

      2. LCH*

        yes, or just pin it on so that it could be removed later to use the jacket as “vintage” as referenced below.

    5. PublicSectorExpat*

      I’ll also add that people are often most insistent about the new logos/new branding right after the change, because they really want the change to “stick” and they’re reacting to people dragging their heels on making the changes to documents etc.

      After a year or two, a jacket with the old logo might start to look “vintage”, and a sign of having been around for a while rather than perceived as a rebellion against the new branding. But that’s really going to depend on the company culture.

      1. Antilles*

        I’ve been with multiple companies that have rebranded like this and this has consistently been my experience too.
        There’s a strong push immediately so that the change really takes effect, but once the change is basically “complete”, then anything with the logo becomes a cool throwback.

      2. kiki*

        Yes, folks in my company definitely love to resurface old swag from years ago and it’s perceived as “cool vintage throwback” more than “Oh no, why are they confusing everyone with the old branding?”

        I wouldn’t necessarily get rid of the sweatshirt (LW can definitely still wear it outside of the office/ outside of work contexts). But I would stop wearing the old one to work and ask for a new one that fits.

      3. Junior Assistant Peon*

        It’s also been my experience that with turnover, the managers who perceived the old logo as “resistance to change” will be gone in a few years, and the new ones won’t know that your old company shirt was once contraband.

      4. Timothy (TRiG)*

        I’m aware of a medical devices company near me which has changed not only logo, but name, more than once. But no one wanted the to dive into the paperwork necessary to update the labels, so products were rolling out the door with three different company names on them. Every product just kept the name of the company under which it had been introduced, because changing anything at all was a pain.

        Until a change to the structure of the EU meant that they needed to add a couple more languages to the labels, and they took the opportunity to fully update the label designs and use the current company name and logo on all of them. But it’s changed name again since then.

    6. Pet Jack*

      Yes, I was wondering why the OP didn’t just ask for another size. The one they were given doesn’t fit, so it would be weird for them to not switch it out or order another. The branding things does have further reaching implications. Now, if the OP came here and said that they DID request another size, I think we could assume something else going on, but not from their letter.

      1. Ginger Cat Lady*

        Because when you are plus size, telling someone that an item of clothing is too small can open you up to even more size criticism, unwelcome dieting advice, and judgement than usual.
        Navigating life when your body doesn’t fit the norm is more challenging than you probably realize.

        1. Dahlia*

          Sometimes you also just hit the limit of what sizes they have with things like company merch. A lot of them only go up to like a 3x.

    7. Endorable*

      I know we aren’t supposed to try amateur diagnosing here, but to LW 3 who “It’s also incredibly difficult to find clothing that fits me well because I have a kind of permanent six-months-pregnant-ish looking belly that is disproportionately big compared to the rest of my body” I have EXACTLY the same problem and for years was just told to lose weight. I recently saw a new doctor who sent me for an ultrasound (for something irrelevant) and it was serendipitously discovered that I have a giant ovarian cyst, roughly the size of a full term baby! It’s not cancer, thank goodness, so I’m on a wait list for surgery (why yes I AM Canadian!). Anyway that comment just stood out for me, and so many things get blamed on ‘just fat’ or get underdiagnosed for women I thought it bring it up. Good luck on getting a new jacket!

      1. TeratomasAreWeird*

        I had a similar issue, also diagnosed via ultrasound! There was an awkward moment when, in the middle of imaging, the technician asked how far along in pregnancy I was, and my answer was “?!??!??”

        Sometimes the only way to get rid of that stubborn extra 8 lbs… is surgery to remove the tumor.

    8. PonyPam*

      A lot of good stuff here – I would just add: as a “sewist,” if it’s machine-embroidered, that logo is there forEVER. Machine embroidery involves very tight, close stitching with a backing, that’s nearly impossible to remove. I’d rather try to embroider over a screen-print than try to remove embroidery and re-stitch.

    9. Artemesia*

      “I should have said something at the time, but I ordered the same size as last time and I cannot use the new jacket as it doesn’t fit at all. I didn’t realize that continuing to just wear the old one would be a problem. Of course I won’t continue, but could we order me a jacket that fits?”

    10. Michael Kohne*

      Do you have to wear a company logo jacket? The last time I had one where the logo was from a company that laid me off, I got a patch (it shows a polar bear) and sewed it over top the logo.

  3. Observer*

    #1 – Retiree won’t leave.

    The good piece of this is that *someone ELSE* experienced at least one instance of her outlandish behavior. She honestly sounds impossible. But the VP and Dean, at least, knows that you are most definitely not exaggerating, unless the whole place has a terrible culture of intense micromanaging.

    1. Bagpuss*

      YEs. I think LW may need to be a bit firmer that Alison’s script suggests and actually say something like “While I’m sure that [Name} wishes to be helpful, we did a very through handover / training (much longer than would be usual for this kind of role) and I don’t feel that it is necessary or helpful for [Name} to be returning. I’d also be concerned that she seems to be envisioning herself and being in a supervisory role over me and making lists of tasks for me to complete. I feel that this would get in the way of me being able to do my job efficiently and of building the appropriate working relationships with the VP, Dean and other staff members.” And if you get pushback or if your bosses seem to think it would be helpful then add something like “If you feel that further input from [name] could be helpful, I’d suggest a short term agreement whereby I can raise any questions with her and she could be paid for her time spent responding. Perhaps the arrangement could be for me to send her any queries once a week, if anything comes up where her input would be helpful or where I am not able to identify the answers myself from the extensive notes and information provided during the handover period, and for her to be able to spend an hours reviewing and responding, on the basis that we pay her an hourly rate for time spent up to a limit of (say) 2 hours a week. Based on my experience to ate, I think it’s unlikely that I’ll need her every week but it would be a way to ensure that we could still tap into her institutional knowledge if needed, but would also let me get on with my job, but would avoid our paying for her to spend time time re-doing things I’d already dealt with or creating additional work by seeking to change or interrupt my work processes.”

      depending on how receptive your boss is maybe give the example of the email and if they insist on having her back, suggest that this be for a very limited period of (sy) 2-4 weeks and that she is explicitly told that she is not there to supervise you, but just to ask questions or to flag up directly with you anything that she thonks might be an issue. (in other words, try to limit both the time she is there for and the number of times she is able to interrupt you each day.

  4. Nia*

    3. So the company has told everyone to throw away perfectly functional items because there’s an old logo on it. What wasteful nonsense. And the LW isn’t even in a client facing role. I might not be willing to die on that hill but I would definitely be pushing back more before I was willing to capitulate to that stupidity.

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, me too.

      That said, I think the LW lost a lot of bargaining power because she didn’t say the jacket didn’t fit as soon as she got it. A simple “I ordered the same size jacket as my old one, but this one doesn’t fit for some reason. Should I just continue wearing the old one or are you going to order me a new one?”

      Unless the employer requires the LW to hand in the old jacket, there’s nothing to stop her from using it when she’s not at work.

      1. Nia*

        The new jacket is a red herring. The policy is still wasteful nonsense that should be called out as such whether or not the new jacket fits.

        1. The fashionista*

          Companies hand out branded apparel as part of a marketing strategy. They’re absolutely entitled to ask that employees wear up-to-date brands at work.

          1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

            At work, yeah. But on your own time? Asking employees to “get rid of it” rather than ” don’t wear it at work” is ridiculous. (For context, I’m in tech, where logo changes are common and people tend to pick up a lot of branded stuff from other companies at conferences and from previous employers. I use a backpack from two jobs ago every day as my standard commuting pack.)

            1. Sneaky Squirrel*

              I don’t perceive that the employer asked the LW to get rid of it completely, just to get rid of it in the workplace, which is completely reasonable.

              1. Pet Jack*

                That’s what I thought as well. Also, who would know outside of work? It’s the “at work” that they can’t wear.

            2. Lydia*

              I’m pretty sure “get rid of it” was just shorthand for “it’s not approved for work wear” and not “purge it from this land.”

            3. Butterfly Counter*

              Whenever my dad’s company got bought out or re-branded, my siblings I suddenly got a ton of polo shirts.

              You don’t have to set them on fire. I’m sure they can be donated or repurposed somewhere.

        2. It's always more complicated*

          It is extremely normal to want your employees to wear the correct logo while in the workplace. Sometimes there is a transition period, sometimes it is straight away. If there is not an end date, then some people would still be wearing an incorrectly branded item years down the track.

          It is a cost built in to decisions about rebranding, just as new business cards or printed stationery is. And yes, many thousands of business cards end up in the recycling in these circumstances.

          LW could still wear the jacket elsewhere. My outdated logo but otherwise functional shirts became my gardening or painting ones.

          1. bamcheeks*

            It is normal, but companies being extraordinarily wasteful is normal, and that’s a bad thing. LW probably doesn’t have any standing to pushback on this, but “we ordered new branded clothing for everyone in the company then told them they had to send it to landfill eight months later” is appalling and shouldn’t be normal or common practice.

            1. The beatings will continue until companies stop needlessly "rebranding".*

              “It is normal, but companies being extraordinarily wasteful is normal, and that’s a bad thing.”

              People will absolutely twist themselves in knots trying to justify why companies have no responsibility to do otherwise than be incredibly wasteful and harmful as a norm. What, people really thinks the human brain cannot process two different logos for the same company?

              1. Peter*

                I think if they noticed then they would process it as amateurish and disorganised and might wonder in what other ways the business is like that. If I got an email from a company we work with and the logo looked wrong they may get the reply they need more slowly because I had to do extra work verifying it was really from them.

                Yeah, you can say it’s all a bit shallow, who cares about logos and redesigns are a poor use of money and can lead to waste. But that’s an argument to be made before the rebrand is all done; not once it’s done, the money has been spent and the issue is about using the same logo across the business.

              1. bamcheeks*

                It’s not clear! Some companies are fine with old brand stuff being worn for non-work purposes, and others need to control the brand outside work too and require their staff to dispose of old-brand items. LW’s letter doesn’t specify which this is.

                That said, it’s pretty likely that a significant amount will end up in landfill or dumped on developing-world markets even if it isn’t an explicit “destroy old brand” thing. There will probably be stuff still in storage at work that gets thrown away, and many employees who have no use for the old-brand stuff if they can’t wear it at work.

            2. MCMonkeyBean*

              I’m honestly surprised to see so many people saying it’s normal. I would expect client-facing roles to require up-to-date branding but behind the scenes I have always seen people wearing very old branded stuff.

              1. umami*

                That is usually the case. We explicitly told employees they could still use their old branded items, just not at work or at work events, and that they had plenty of time to give out any promo items with the old logo. Business cards were not even replaced until someone ran out. We did replace all other official stationery, though, but it’s usually a print on-demand, so no real waste.

                1. Lydia*

                  I don’t think it’s useful to read too much into what they meant by telling the OP to get rid of it. They could have meant they didn’t want it to exist in the world anymore, or, more likely, it was just shorthand for it not being approved work wear anymore.

          2. Waiting on the bus*

            I think Nia is getting hung up on “get rid off” in the letter, which could mean “remove it from the premises but use at home as you want” but also “throw everything away”.

            On my first read through I also interpreted it as the employer wanting people to throw stuff with the old logo away and was also getting stuck on how wasteful that is. I suspect Nia read it that way as well.

            Whatever the employer meant doesn’t change things for the OP though: if the employer doesn’t want to see the jacket with the old logo on the premises, OP’s best bet is to talk to their boss about getting a jacket with the new logo that fits or explain why they want to stick with the old jacket and ask if an exemption can be made.

            1. Smithy*

              I think this is a critical difference. What exactly does get rid of meant, and what would need to be done for an exception to be made (i.e. could the logo be patched over making an exception to still wear the jacket).

              I also think that some relevant missing information from this letter is what exactly the rebranding included and why it was done. Sometimes those choices are truly stylistic and feel very minor. But those reasons can be far weightier for the company. The company’s name could have changed, there could have been a recent merger, imagery could have been removed due to concerns over how a logo is now perceived (i.e. has undesired suggested sexual or religious imagery). There could be legal or contractual reasons issues around this rebrand.

              I think of the P&G “satanist” logo kerfuffle in the 1980’s and the amount of time and money they went through on a rebrand to distance themselves from a conspiracy theory they could never outrun. And ended up being enough of a big deal, I think they were able to sue for damages for having to change their logo. This isn’t to say that the OP shouldn’t be able to wear a jacket that they like and that fits. But rather that companies spend a lot of money on their brands and whether the choice to rebrand is under duress or with joy, when it’s this comprehensive, they often get intense about it.

              1. Phony Genius*

                It reminds me of when MetLife ended their endorsement relationship with the company that owns Peanuts. They had to very quickly purge all images of Charlie Brown and Snoopy from their properties. I remember reading that they even made non-public facing employees remove personal items that had the characters on them, including cartoons hanging on cubicle walls.

                1. Smithy*

                  I used to work somewhere that had an ongoing partnership with Sesame Street….had there come a day when that ended, I can’t even imagine all of the “stuff” people had in the office that would have gone from being workplace relevant to no longer appropriate. And potentially legally problematic.

              2. Hannah Lee*

                My guess is the LW’s company wanted people to only wear stuff with the new logo at work. But when LW continued to wear the old logo stuff, the messaging changed from “don’t wear it here” to “get rid of it”

                If LW continues to wear it on their own time, there would be no issue.

                LW should ask about getting a jacket with the new logo that fits, and if that’s not a possibility, to ask if it would be OK if they updated the old jacket with the new logo. (company may have a source for this service, or want to provide an image file or specify the ink/thread colors if LW goes that way vs have someone just try to randomly match it)

              3. jellied brains*

                My company was a sponsor of a local school that changed names. I live in the South, so the old name was Historic Old Racist. (hence the name change).

                We were explicitly told to throw away, not donate any merch we had with the old name on it because the company didn’t want to be associated with the HOR.

          3. Nia*

            What exactly is the problem with wearing an out of date logo years later? I promise you that wearing out of date merchandise is going to effect the company not one bit.

            1. The fashionista*

              Your “promise” is worth the paper it’s written on. Climb down from your high horse, sister. Companies spend a lot of money crafting their brand identity and have every right to expect that employees won’t sabotage the process. The cost of a few dozen/hundred pieces of logowear is trivial. These aren’t pieces of plastic; they’re made of biodegradable fiber. And there’s nothing to stop employees from wearing old logowear at home, on their own time, away from the office.

              1. bamcheeks*

                These aren’t pieces of plastic; they’re made of biodegradable fiber

                FWIW, this has not been the case with any workwear I’ve had. The top and blouse when I was in retail were pure synthetics (amazing stuff, I could leave it in my bag for a week and it came out as good as new) and the nice thick fleece hoodies were 40% polyester.

                1. bamcheeks*

                  (But also, 500 cotton tshirts that just get chucked out / shipped somewhere / recycled (a tiny amount) is a massive, massive waste of water.) It’s not being on a “high horse” to be pissed off about massive corporate waste that depletes everyone’s resources.

                2. The fashionista*

                  It does not waste “everyone’s” resources, and OP is out of pocket exactly zero dollars because of this change. The only resources being expended are the company’s resources, and the company gets to decide how they’re allocated, not LW.

                  LW can take the old jacket camping or what not. For the office, all she needs to do is ask for a bigger size. Problem solved without unnecessary drama.

              2. Nia*

                I am still not hearing a reason on how the company is “sabotaged” by wearing the old logo. And no the fact that the company wasted a lot of money on a rebrand does not constitute a reason.

                1. Zzzzzz*

                  You seem determined NOT to believe that a logo is more than just a mark. A large part of a company’s brand is their logo: it isn’t just a physical image or a special mark and font/lettering. It signifies what the companies does, stands for, how they treat their clients, what their clients can expect: ie TRUST the company to carry out their brand promise. Employees also need to embrace the new brand as part of their job and that means, if you are required to wear a branded item for your job, you wear the correct logo. It does go both ways: it means the company has to make sure the employees have the correct sizes, pays for the clothing, and enough of the item to wear comfortably day to day (think of a FedEx driver).

                2. Been There*

                  Just because you don’t understand marketing/branding, doesn’t mean there isn’t a reason for these decisions.

                3. BubbleTea*

                  If the company’s brand reputation hinges on what one individual in a non-client-facing office wears in the office, they’ve got bigger problems than the jacket.

                  It is undeniably wasteful to create and then discard large amounts of branded clothing. I’m not even sure what the purpose of having branded clothes for back office staff would be.

                  I worked at Sainsburys (large UK supermarket chain) when they changed the uniforms from navy blue to orange and purple. And yes, that was as hideous as you can imagine. I understand why all the cashiers and floor staff had to change to the new uniform, but it would have been bananas to require all the warehouse and office staff to wear a uniform at all, never mind replace items no member of the public would ever see.

                4. Seeking Second Childhood*

                  Alison and this comment section are responding to a letter writer who has no control over the rebranding decision.

                  When a marketing exec writes in asking about logo changes and new corporate uniforms PLEASE bring this up.

                5. Insert Clever Name Here*

                  I work for a public utility. When the company rebranded several years ago, there was a massive PR campaign about the new name and logo (they even did a Super Bowl ad in markets we serve). Everyone was issued new hard hats and other gear with the new logo, and the company store had a discount for several months on new logo wear. There were bins at all the company offices for old logo gear and we were told not to wear old logo gear anymore.

                  Because, you see, if someone needs to come into your house to check the meter and is wearing the old logo…is that person actually an employee? Should you let them in your house? Trust them on your property? Logos are shorthand for “I am an authorized rep of this company.”

                  It’s fair to take issue with the environmental impacts of taking a lot of clothing out of circulation, and companies should be mindful of that and mitigate where they can (my company sent turned in gear to a textile recycler and made knot blankets for the animal shelter out of unused gear). But there is a reason to take old stuff out of circulation.

                6. Bibliothecarial*

                  Agree with Insert Clever Name. Airlines, banks, airports, and several other industries need to make sure their uniform clothing is either worn by a current employee or shredded. It’s a matter of safety. Although I’m sure there are plenty of simply wasteful companies – but that’s not the LW’s job to fix :)

                7. Yellow cake*

                  I get frequent logo change orders. We risk major deals wearing the wrong partnership on our uniforms.

                  Personally – I don’t care. I think people who get upset are being silly. But I also understand branding is important and we should be up to date. I just think personal attachment to the partnerships (new or old) is strange.

                8. nodramalama*

                  It kind of seems like you dont really appreciate the value of branding and consistent marketing. You may not understand why, but branding IS important.

                9. Eldritch Office Worker*

                  All of this is completely off topic. The point is that the OP has been told not to wear the jacket at work, and therefore they cannot, unless this is something they’re willing to lose their job over and it doesn’t sound like it is.

                10. Smithy*

                  To add onto Insert Clever Name Here’s post – a lot of the Catch Me if You Can scams of the 20th century (and into today), would rely on someone wearing a uniform – or branded clothing – of a trusted profession or employer to gain entry to a home, open a bank account without ID, etc. And so then the larger company gets tarnished by “posing as a PanAm pilot” or “former PanAm pilot” using that identity as part their efforts to commit crimes or just be a bad person.

                  None of this isn’t to say that the OP shouldn’t have access to a branded jacket that fits. Or that there isn’t an alternative solution to continue wearing this jacket that is a fabric, cut and style that’s desirable regardless of branding. When it comes down to it, if this company is treating this logo like the Nike Cortez – then there’s probably a much bigger story going on. So covering it up, is likely an option vs destruction.

              3. Sharpie*

                The vast majority of clothing made these.days is a long way from being biodegradable. Polyester is plastic, as nylon and acrylic. And the fast fashion industry sends thousands and thousands of brand-new, wearable clothing to landfill every. Single. Day.

                Fast fashion also doesn’t pay the people who make the clothing anything like a living wage, either. These two things combined is why there’s been a slow but steady increase in slow fashion and sustainability.

                (If you’re interested in finding out more, look up Justine Leconte on YouTube – she has some truly eye-opening videos about this whole issue, which are incredibly well researched.)

                1. Sharpie*

                  Apologies for the weird grammar in there. This is what happens when you’re on your phone and don’t double-check what you’ve written!

                2. bamcheeks*

                  it’s also wild that people think it’s fine to over-produce stuff as long as it’s biodegradable! Cotton is a super-thirsty and carbon-intensive crop: corporate greenwashing where people think giving away 250 cotton bags is more sustainable than giving away 250 plastic bags is DDD:

                3. Lydia*

                  @bamcheeks It’s also weird how people are focusing on something the OP has no control over, cannot change, and is not the point of the question. Nobody is arguing this is okay, all they’re saying is it’s common and not all that unreasonable for a company to want a consistent look across its workforce.

              4. I Have RBF*

                These aren’t pieces of plastic; they’re made of biodegradable fiber.

                You do know what polyester fabric is made of, right? It’s petrochemical plastic. So is acrylic. Even polycotton has polyester (plastic) in it. It will not gracefully degrade in a landfill – it will just add more microplastics to the environment.

                Acetate and rayon are synthetic fibers made from cellulose, aka wood pulp, and are biodegradable. Bamboo and hemp are likewise natural plant fibers, along with cotton.

              5. JaneDough(not)*

                Please stop spreading false info.
                _____ Corporate-wear always contains synthetic fibers, which are cheaper — so, not biodegradeable.
                _____ Even natural fibers don’t break down fully because they’re aren’t composted. They end up in the trash domestically, or at Goodwill-type outlets, or in trash dumps in less-developed nations that are currently overrun with used clothing.
                _____ Garments are responsible for a massive amount of pollution worldwide (from the dyes, from the synthetic fibers.) They’re also responsible for the exploitation of labor, often child labor, in impoverished nations.
                _____ Every single item that’s manufactured represents an enormous amount of fuel: to harvest or create the materials, transform them into the item, ship the item, and store the item until it’s used. That’s a HORRIFYING amount of waste just so some co. can jostle its way into the public’s limited attention span with a new logo.

                Please stop being so cavalier about the massive amount of waste and human suffering caused by every single thing we buy. It’s incumbent on all of us to, frankly, stop consuming anything other than food, a little electricity (lights; fridge and cooking equipment; fans — not AC; moderate heat; and devices), and a little fuel to get us to work. Everything else is work-around-able.

                If you think that’s not so, then please tell us what you plan to do for food after most of the bees (they pollinate crops) are dead from pollution, after most of the animals who are part of the food chain are dead because they couldn’t adapt to ever-hotter temps, and because crops themselves couldn’t adapt to ever-hotter temps *and* because we made much of Earth too hot for crop production.

        3. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

          You’re not wrong, but unfortunately this is very normal (and not even close to the most wasteful thing the vast majority of companies.). But it probably won’t be super helpful to litigate here whether brand adherence is a real necessity, because LW’s boss sees it as one.

          1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

            Thank you. Yes its wasteful. But OP has been told to not wear it at least at work anymore. If she continues she can be fired for insubordination. Waste or not, she will be out of a paycheck.

        4. mreasy*

          Old branded items can be used outside of work or donated so it isn’t quite as bad as trashing them, but I agree. When we rebranded, I discovered how much low quality branded product the EA had bought. We were able to donate about half of it, but the amount that we had to trash was horrifying.

          1. Lydia*

            Donating of company branded items is not a great option. Very few people want to wear a polo shirt that was obviously worn for work until it was time to pass it on. OP should hang onto the jacket and see if there are other uses for it.

            1. Dahlia*

              Seconding this.

              At the thrift store I worked at, it was company policy to not put any kind of branded apparel out on the floor. So if you’re lucky, we’d pass it on to the next charity company, but if you weren’t lucky, it was just a more complicated way to throw things out.

          1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

            I guess “get rid of” could be read to encompass “donate to Goodwill”, but if they don’t want employees wearing the old logo to the grocery store I can’t imagine they’d be okay with non-employees doing so.

        5. JSPA*

          So, to rephrase, “Never mind the question, here’s what I want to talk about, and as it’s clearly more important to the future of the planet, you all suck.” Honestly… this is what I’d imagine an anti environmentalist troll would do, to make environmentalists look like jerks.

      2. Don't Be Longsuffering*

        If they aren’t reasonable enough to get you a jacket that fits, try getting a patch with the new logo to put over the old one.
        Just me, but I suspect you’ve been body shamed and don’t realize it’s perfectly normal to say ‘this one doesn’t fit. Please get me one that fits. And can I please have it in the lighter weight?’

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          A different size is doable but I don’t think they have different styles lying around to choose from.

      3. OP 3*

        I think Alison might have cut this part out, or maybe I forgot to put it in lol. But my manager sits very close to me and we all tried on the jackets at the same time. The new jackets don’t fit anyone because the they all run about two sizes smaller than what they are labeled as. I don’t know hardly anyone who received a jacket that actually fit.

        I think I’m mostly annoyed because our company is becoming more and more stringent about the dumbest things and generally treating us like 5 year olds who need to be checked out of school to go to a doctor’s appointment… so it’s just another thing to add to the list.

        1. JSPA*

          get a real eyesore from goodwill or a yard sale for a dollar, until they do. Just a hint of malicious compliance, and worth a dollar, even if you have to turn over every cushion to find dimes.

    2. Despachito*

      I think they are perfectly entitled to do this, and that digging your heels in would seriously damage your relationship with the company.

      But if they want OP to wear the jacket, they absolutely should be the ones giving her her real size (and she should not worry about eating the cost of the new one) . What OP should do is just ask that – the current size does not fit, please give me another jacket in the correct size.

      1. Sneaky Squirrel*

        We don’t actually know that company necessarily wants/requires LW to wear the jacket. We only know that company wants LW to stop wearing the old jacket. LW says the first jackets were a Christmas gift. These new jackets could have also been a gift. My company has given me branded jackets as a gift before without any obligation to wear them; it’s a very normal gifting practice. LW ordered the wrong size (it happens). LW probably could ask for a replacement.

        1. I Have RBF*

          Apparently, all of the jackets were two sizes too small according to OP3, above.

          They didn’t “order the wrong size”, they ordered the same size as before, but the vendor’s sizes were actually two sizes too small.

    3. Kathy*

      They didn’t say to throw them away, just not to use them at work. Same as overhauling the letterhead or the advertising in a store.

      That said, I do think it’s a little weird to require that of people not in customer-facing roles.

        1. Glomarization, Esq.*

          You sound really invested in this, but it’s perfectly reasonable that the employees might interpret “get rid of,” in the context of clothing, as “donate to the needy.”

          In any event, nobody is saying that it’s not wasteful for companies to overhaul their branding and get rid of everything with their old logos and color schemes.

          1. UKDancer*

            I’d interpret “get rid of” as not use for work or where it can be seen in the office rather than destroy. So I have a number of t-shirts that my cousin got from his company when they rebranded. He was asked to get rid of them and passed them along. They are good t-shirts that I wear for jobs around the house / garden. I don’t work in the same city or industry. He has got rid of them to a good home. He did give a number of others to a domestic violence shelter which was very grateful for them as the women there often come with very little.

            I also have a range of them from trade fairs and exhibitions I’ve visited. Again I don’t wear them externally but when I’m around the house they’re serviceable as workwear.

            1. Lydia*

              This. People are being very strict about what “get rid of it” means when all it seems to mean is that they can’t wear it to work anymore. They probably don’t care if you wear it at home or at the ball field. They probably weren’t even thinking about people having to donate it. It’s just that it can’t be worn in an official capacity.

          2. Armchair Analyst*

            but then needy people won’t know about the new logo.


            people are really out here defending company branding for an internal position where a employee just wants a jacket that fits. the employee is right. the company is wrong and is being weird micromanaging what employees wear.

            the company has many options
            1. turn up the heat.. eliminate need for jacket
            2. say nothing.
            3. buy employee a new jacket that fits.
            4. allow both logos for a time.
            5. pay employee more to enable purchase of a quality logo-free jacket that fits.

            if someone has a jacket that has the “Wal-Mart” logo instead of “*Walmart” as an example, I as an employee don’t think less of them. I think they have institutional knowledge and experience and potentially even leadership capabilities and mature perspective.

            can a company require or micromanage this? yes. should they? a million percent no

        2. Allonge*

          Even if they meant throw away*, nothing is stopping staff from keeping the still-usable clothing items and wearing them at home or anywhere outside of the office.

          1. Allonge*

            * And yes, this is wasteful – ideally they would provide recycling options or spell out when it’s still ok to use the old things.

            That said, projecting a unified brand identity is something a lot of companies care a lot about, work a lot on, and consider as part of their assets. Whether or not this should be done with fast fashion items is a worthy discussion; it’s unlikely that we will solve the issue here.

        3. Falling Diphthong*

          This isn’t a book burning. It’s a directive not to wear the old stuff to work. You can presumably wear it other places, donate it, and weave it into a throw rug.

        4. Antilles*

          I’ve been through rebrands and heard pretty much that exact same statement. And every time, I’ve interpreted that “get rid of” with the unspoken addendum of in whatever way is appropriate for the item in question.

          And that’s a whole spectrum. On one end, yes, you’re going to throw business cards and marketing materials straight in the trash/recycling because it’s now useless. On the other end, there’s stuff that’s durable and expensive to replace which has the company logo on it (e.g., company truck) where “get rid of it” obviously doesn’t mean to destroy the item entirely, just cover up the old logo with the new one.

      1. Mister_L*

        Regarding non customer facing roles: Depening on your role it’s still possible that people from outside the company see you (Example: Group of potential business partners or investors is given a tour of the premises).
        Also, people could see OP while arriving or leaving.

        1. HonorBox*

          Absolutely this. I do some customer service training and point out regularly that even the person who doesn’t see customers DOES have opportunity to be seen by customers. In the parking lot, if you stop by the store on the way home, etc. You’re an extension of the company’s brand when you’re wearing the gear and need to approach it that way. You can’t be a jerk to someone in the parking lot just because you’re not a customer-facing employee. You’re still representing the company when you have the gear, or your name badge on.

    4. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

      Lots of marketing practices are pretty wasteful but that’s a bigger conversation about wider cultural change and economic models. The employee doesn’t really have standing to get the employer to fix it on that basis.

      The waste vs benefit calculation may well have been made when the decision to do a rebrand was taken. That happens in our organisation.

      But I agree it is wasteful.

    5. londonedit*

      Of course it’s wasteful, but I don’t see anything that indicates there would be a problem with the OP wearing the old jacket outside of work. ‘Get rid of’ might not have been the clearest wording, but it seems to be that the company just wants everyone wearing the new branded stuff when they’re at work. And that makes sense – the whole point of a rebrand is to roll out a new look, and I can understand that the company wouldn’t want a mish-mash of old and new watering down the impact of the brand new logo. OP might not be client facing, but companies with uniforms or other standards for attire often impose those on everyone working for the company, so that there’s one company-wide ‘look’ that’s cohesive. I do think the fit is the one thing the OP could go back to the company on – they should absolutely be able to have a jacket that fits properly. And in bigger terms, yes, rebranding and chucking away perfectly good stuff is wasteful of the company. But it’s happened, and the best OP can do is ask for a jacket that fits, wear that in a work context, and save the old jacket to wear at home.

    6. Nancy*

      No one has to throw anything out. No company is going to be looking in anyone’s home for old branded stuff. They don’t want the old brand at work and it is easier to have one policy for everyone than make a bunch of exceptions.

      OP can get a patch to place over the logo and use the jacket. Or, better, ask for a better fitting one and keep the jacket for non-work wear only. Now she has 2 jackets.

      1. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

        My sister’s company has a strict policy that branded items cannot be given to charity or otherwise released into the wild. You can give them to family members, but they also have to dispose of them if they don’t want them any longer (she’s given me fleece throws and shirts in the past).

    7. umami*

      Usually in this sense, the ‘get rid of’ means to not wear/display items with the old logo at work, not that you have to throw away everything you have with the old logo. We recently updated our logo, and went through the same process of telling employees to transition to the new logo for anything they wear/use at work for consistency. We really don’t have standing to tell people what they can wear or use outside of work!

      I am more concerned that OP isn’t paid enough to be able to buy a decent jacket and has to rely on the branded one from work. I wouldn’t think anyone would object to her exchanging the ill-fitting one for nother size.

    8. K8T*

      ….except that’s not what happened? It’s 100% reasonable to require employees to wear the current logo to work. They didn’t ask them to trash the old clothes and even if they did – they wouldn’t go and audit everyone’s closets. Honestly very confused how people are arriving to that conclusion.

      OP needs to simply ask for a bigger size and bam – no problem at all.

    9. lilsheba*

      Yes, this is superficial and ridiculous, I mean who cares really? It’s insane to throw out good clothes, there is too much waste as it is!

  5. Ludo*

    #5 can be so such a downer when you see it in real life

    a friend said her interviewer said “we will be in touch with the next steps” and she took that to mean she basically had an offer, “why would he say we would go over the next steps if they weren’t going to give an offer?”

    I had to explain to her that it’s really easy to take every word at face value when interviewing, but to not get excited until you have an offer in writing.

    1. Emmy Noether*

      Oh no! I feel like that’s such a common way for the interviewer to essentially say “don’t contact us, we’ll contact you” to every candidate they interview. Next step could be an offer letter, could also be another round of interviews, or even a rejection letter (which is a “next step” in the company’s process, even if not so much from the candidate’s point of view).

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I interview people and I’ve been guilty of letting “next steps” slip out to someone I had no intention of taking any further. Usually I avoid wording like that and instead say something more like “I’ll send over my feedback to the recruiter and they’ll be in touch”. I’ve also been asked by interviewees “so what is the next step in this process” which needs a tactful answer if I have already decided not to take them forward on the basis of the current interview!

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I know, me too. I’ve been trying to consciously switch to “you’ll hear from us either way” but “we’ll be in touch about next steps” is so rote and normal that if I’m on autopilot I don’t always catch it.

    3. umami*

      Oh no! We always mention the next steps in the process to candidates who interview so they can be prepared ‘in case’ they make it to the next stage. Especially if it’s something that could be a hardship (i.e. 2nd round interviews will be scheduled for x day, followed by final round interviews the following day). I frame it as ‘candidates who make it to the next round can expect’, but I wonder if that is explicit enough to not seem misleading.

    4. Generic Name*

      Aw, poor thing. From an interviewers perspective, “next steps” usually mean the next steps in the hiring process, which is making an offer to one person, and rejecting the others. Or maybe just next round of interviews (or rejections).

    5. UnreasonableAssumptions*

      why on earth would anyone assume that? the next step could be a notification that they didn’t get the job or that they want another interview with a higher up or they want a specific type of reference or anything else. I ask what the next steps are so I know what to expect as the next part of the process, but interviewing is like a funnel; the number of people who fit into each next step that keeps them in the running gets smaller and smaller so some percentage of people fall out.

      1. AnonORama*

        I do the same, with the understanding that a next step may well be to tell me they’re moving ahead with others. To my mind, a next step that involves a polite rejection email is 100% better than no next step at all, aka ghosting.

  6. nnn*

    For #2, I don’t think you actually need to say anything or ask anything unless they show up to work without the tattoos being visible.

    If they show up without them visible, you can ask them if they intend to cover them at work regularly (and point out that your organization doesn’t have any sort of policy requiring them to do so) and, if they intend to cover them regularly, perhaps have them retake the photo to reflect the tattoos being covered, on the basis that your photo needs to reflect your everyday appearance.

    I also think, if the employee shows up with them visible every day, the question of whether they’re permanent tattoos or something the employee draws on every day is a red herring. I draw on my winged liner and cut crease every day, and I look like my security photo.

    1. Post Mates Malone*

      That was such a weird letter. Wait a week, see if they still have the tattoos. If yes, no problem. If no, ask them to retake the photo and maybe casually try to figure out what happened. Maybe it’s something as innocent as their kids having fun while they were sleeping. How is AAM supposed to address the situation when LW isn’t even sure what the situation is?

      1. Despachito*

        It indeed sounds very weird.

        If it were kids having fun and drawing on this person’s face, wouldn’t this person find out before taking an official ID photo?

        It is not clear what really happened. Does it mean that OP does not believe the tattoos are real because of their looks? Why would a person get their photo taken after deliberately drawing on their face with a marker?

        I would wait until I meet this person in person. If the tattoos are really tattoos and it is not against our policy (which OP implies isn’t), I’d let it be completely. If they aren’t, I’d ask the employee what is going on, and work with this information.

        1. Fiona Orange*

          I had to suppress the urge to giggle over the thought of someone scribbling all over their face with marker before they had their ID photo taken!

          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            I did wonder if this person drew on their face with marker just for the photo session thinking that it would confuse facial recognition softwar. (So their thinking would be that, if their ID photo goes into a database, it would presumably be less useful to the software if there’s writing on their face.)

            If the writing isn’t permanent, then there has to be some reason they showed up with it on photo day. Other than the possibility that they have a side gig as a Post Malone tribute act, this seems one of the most likely reasons.

            1. Ally McBeal*

              If you’re right then OP had better get used to seeing that employee’s name come up a lot. Conspiracy theorists do not good coworkers make…

        2. umami*

          It seems security saw it and went to HR to ask if it was OK. Doesn’t sound like this HR person knows the new hire or will even interact with them. I imagine it’s something for the supervisor to deal with, if it’s even something to deal with. But including some type of language on the form isn’t likely necessary.

        3. Ann*

          Sharpie? I had a kid draw all over herself once. It was a couple of days before the marker washed off completely…

          1. Kokomojo*

            Pro tip: sharpie cleans off skin pretty well with baby oil or makeup remover. I learned that from a triathlete.

      2. Cat Tree*

        It’s also weird to me that they never saw him before he was hired. Even for mostly remote work it’s pretty standard to have video interviews in many industries.

          1. English Rose*

            I was thinking why not just ask the hiring manager whether the person had facial ink at interview. A hiring manager would remember this sort of thing.

            1. UKDancer*

              Yeah, I’m not observant but I’d notice that.

              I mean I went to an international conference a few years ago and there was a New Zealand delegate with moko kauae (facial tattooing) and she stood out significantly because facial tattoos are extremely rare in my white collar occupation. I can’t remember anyone else who attended but I remember her. If I interviewed someone with facial tattoos for a job that would be definitely memorable.

            1. UKDancer*

              I suppose so. I mean when my company takes people on we have to check they’re entitled to work in the UK which usually involves checking ID (passport generally because it’s the most common form alongside a list of other things) making sure it matches the person and taking a record of it to keep on file. That way we can prove we’ve checked they are legally working if anyone from the Home Office checks up. If we can’t prove they’ve the right to work, we can be fined significantly.

              I’m guessing nobody did that in this case?

        1. DataGirl*

          I am so confused by this. Did no one interview this person before they were hired? If someone interviewed them and there were no tattoos, do they think this person went out and got a bunch of face tattoos between being interviewed and starting their first day? And why can’t they just look at the person now (if it’s a remote position, just send them a video meeting request to ‘check in’) to see if there are tattoos. It’s very weird.

        2. MassMatt*

          This is what I came to say. How is it that no one seems to know whether this new hire has face tattoos? Was he never interviewed, even remotely via Zoom or some such? Is their hiring process so long that someone could be interviewed tattoo-free, and show up for orientation with their face covered with tattoos? Tattoos, even if very poorly done, require time to apply and much more time to heal.

          I find it odd that the LW is so timid about this. Facial tattoos are transgressive in just about every culture except the Māori. Most reputable tattoo artists will not do them, or will demand serious discussion and explanation. Face tattoos would be an immediate disqualification for every place I’ve ever worked, and LW seems to wonder whether maybe they need to rewrite their ID badge policy?

          LW needs to be forthright and ask about the ID photo. If the new hire did indeed get it taken with marker all over their face, I would certainly question their judgment. If they have a face full of terrible tattoos which they somehow concealed during the interview and only just revealed for the badge photo—well, do you want this person working there?

          1. Irish Teacher*

            It sounds like nobody at the company has any problem with the employee having facial tattoos. It doesn’t sound like they would have any problem with the employee working there if that is the case. And it almost certainly is.

            I don’t think the LW is being timid. Facial tattoos are not a problem in the company so there isn’t really an issue here. The LW is just worried that they might not be tattoos, which would be an odd thing to ask about with no reason to think they aren’t. I think it would be hard to phone somebody up and say, “hey tattoos are fine I you have them, but I just wanted to check they were tattoos and you didn’t just draw on your face before the interview?” If I had tattoos, I’d find that quite an odd question.

        3. umami*

          I think only HR didn’t see! Security made the ID badge, thought it was weird and wanted todouble-check with HR about it. I’m pretty sure the folks who interviewed/hired the guy saw the tattoos, unless they are new, and if new, they have certainly seen them by now.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        My guess was someone with an erratic idea about how corporations/government can use facial ID to track you.

        1. The OG Sleepless*

          That’s what I was thinking; kind of like those license plate covers that are supposed to keep your plate number from being readable by surveillance cameras.

        2. Jay*

          This was my take as well.
          I’ve seen a couple of people sporting “urban camouflage” a couple of times over the past few years.
          I don’t know what he hoped to accomplish by doing this with his work photo, as the whole purpose is supposed to be making you difficult to identify through automated surveillance.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I mean, a lot of people who like to complain about the government’s surveillance of them do so using websites and apps that they have authorized to track and share their data.

            1. Oui oui oui all the way home*

              Your comment made me laugh out loud. Seriously, some of those types could be described as “not the sharpest cookie in the drawer” (I mixed up a couple of idioms for fun).

      4. ferrina*

        Yeah, even if LW doesn’t usually talk to new hires, someone can find an excuse to track this person down and double check that their ID photo looks like their day-to-day appearance. There’s always a paper that needs to be signed (maybe you “happened to be on the floor” and decided to stop by and introduce yourself) or maybe you want to check-in and see how the onboarding is going or any number of excuses.

      5. MassMatt*

        “ Wait a week, see if they still have the tattoos. If yes, no problem. If no, ask them to retake the photo and maybe casually try to figure out what happened”.

        I don’t agree.

        If he has tattoos, how is it no one knew this before he showed up for the ID badge? I think the issue the LW a should be examining is the interview process, not the ID a badge policy. If he doesn’t, why in the world did he show up for an ID badge photo with magic marker all over his face? That indicates a likely lack of judgment, or worse, a giant “F you!” to the company.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          “how is it no one knew this before he showed up for the ID badge”

          They very well could, and security and HR are out of the loop.

          1. Lydia*

            This. The person(s) who interviewed him may not have thought it worth mentioning because the company doesn’t really have a policy about it. Security probably met him for the first time when he showed up for his photo. It’s not that weird for the HR person not to have met this guy, especially if you have more than one HR person.

        2. Observer*

          f he has tattoos, how is it no one knew this before he showed up for the ID badge?

          As Eldritch says, it could be that someone did and HR and security were out of the loop. The latter seems highly likely regardless.

          I think the issue the LW a should be examining is the interview process, not the ID a badge policy.

          Agreed. Because it’s pretty clear that security is not getting the information they need. And it sounds like HR is not being kept in the loop. And also that they are oddly reactive without a lot of information.

          Obviously, someone should have confirmed that those area actually face tattoos. But since that was not done, the next obvious step is to check with the hiring manager, who should have seen him, or if all the interviews were by phone only, they should just wait and see what he looks like when he shows up. All of the dithering about what they should do and maybes doesn’t make a lot of sense.

      6. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Until told otherwise, I am going to assume that he ran into Jigglypuff.

        (More plausibly, drawing on people when they’ve had too much to drink and have passed out is a “fun prank” in some circles.)

        I agree that the solution is to wait a week or two and then look at the person to see if they have face tattoos. If they are working on-site or in a role with video meetings, this is easily delegated to their supervisor as a “I know this sounds odd, but can you keep an eye on Face Tattoo Man and see if he’s still sporting those tattoos in a week or two? If not, he needs to re-take his ID picture without them.”

      7. WillowSunstar*

        Yeah, the employee might have had children who begged them to be allowed to draw on their face, or maybe volunteered at some sort of event with face painting, thinking the paint/marker would be able to be washed off, but they didn’t have the right kind of soap or something. Still, I wouldn’t have done such a thing knowing I was going to start a new job the following week, but maybe that’s just me.

        1. Observer*

          Yeah, the employee might have had children who begged them to be allowed to draw on their face, or maybe volunteered at some sort of event with face painting, thinking the paint/marker would be able to be washed off, but they didn’t have the right kind of soap or something

          That doesn’t really fly. I can’t speak to marker, but there is no face paint that can’t be washed off with plain soap or almost any facial cleaner in the world. And if it did turn out that they were stupid enough to let their kid(s) mark up their face with some unknown stuff that can’t be washed off (which would be a pretty dangerous thing to do, because those things are not rated for human safety, and are often inherently unsafe), that would be a mark against their judgement, in any case.

          The only exception would be if he were to say something like “My kids pranked me while I was asleep, but I couldn’t get it off. Can we do the photos next week? I hope this will come off by then.” So, not bad judgement (because kids pull stupid pranks even on the best of parents), and the person is *acknowledging* that this is not actually what their face looks like and is explaining why they are doing this otherwise bizarre thing.

    2. Green great dragon*

      From context, I don’t think LW will be working with new hire, and may not see them naturally. So the question is whether they should check in with the new hire’s LM or site manager to see whether they continue to turn up with those tattoos.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        This was my thought as well – they say they are in HR – not the Dept the new employee will be working in (which explains not having seen their face before). Why did the security badge person not ask the hiring manager who presumably interviewed the employee and more than likely saw their face?

        Also, for the doodling kids theory – one friend told me about how hard sharpie is to get off your hands right before your first day of a new job.

    3. Don't Be Longsuffering*

      The letter seems to imply the OP has never seen tattoo person. Large org could have dozens of campuses. Also, I’m really sure people would recognize you without eye liner but if you research how people’s brains actually see others, many would not recognize this person without a decorated face. And that’s a security risk. Also a premise for a heist movie. Hmm…

      1. EmmyLouWho*

        is it possible tattoo person has heard about face tattoos/facial decoration to disrupt facial recognition scanners and just…misunderstood their use?

      2. Allonge*

        I am just on a Doctor Who binge and in one episode disappearing facial tattoos were a sign of alien possession, so that was my first thought… perhaps not in this case. :)

      3. Armchair Analyst*

        I was thinking maybe the tattooed employee’s job will be to go undercover in an environment where facial tattoos are normal, and the person reviewing the ID photos or the LW has no idea

        hijinks ensue

    4. Kevin Sours*

      Agreed. Deal with it when it’s a problem. It isn’t yet. Anything you say about it is likely to make things awkward. (There isn’t a polite what of saying “are those tattoos real because it looks like you scribbled on your face with a magic marker?”).

    5. JSPA*

      And if someone fell asleep too close to their 5 year old nephew with a sharpie, the day before photos, and came in not knowing it was photo day, and figured they could always get photos retaken later, no need to make a fuss… they presumably can get photos retaken later.

    6. Past tense sneak*

      Pretty much what I was thinking too.

      And if it’s a remote position… a quick zoom call covers the same.

      No need to spend any real capital on this, just front up and if there’s a radical change in appearance tackle it then.

      That said… if an employee has really nasty bad face tattoos that are obviously not professional and if they are full of gang, hate language/symbol or show extreme poor judgement then that’s another thing to contemplate – I assume the role is not customer facing but if the face tattoos have implied messages then that needs to be considered.

  7. yvve*

    LW3– they’re not requiring you to wear a branded jacket, right? Just any jacket other than the old one? In that case, yea, I do think it’ll be hard to push back on. But it might be easier to fix! Like maybe you can just buy a cute patch and sew it over the brand on the old one, like some flowers or something, if it’s small enough

    1. Patches*

      Yep, that’s what I’d do, put something over the old logo AND tell my boss I need a new one in a larger size.

    2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      My friend’s company rebranded and he bought an embroidered patch on Etsy to sew over the old logo. Much cheaper than a whole new jacket, and more environmentally friendly.

    3. Storm Yesterday*

      This. You can get neat, cute patches online. It’s an easy sew on, I promise. OR, if the logo is embroidered on, you might be able to use an upicker (also called a seam ripper) to pick the threads out of the jacket until the logo is gone.

      You haven’t said what causes you to have a bigger looking belly, but I just want to say that, as someone who gets bad bloating, I REALLY feel you on this conundrum. A sticky-out belly that looks/feels disproportionate to the shape of the rest of my body makes dressing/styling a pain sometimes, and if I find an item of clothing that works, I will wear it out. (I have bought two of a particular blouse, once I knew that it worked for me, and I keep the secomd in a moth-proof bag for the inevitable time when the original will be worn out.) Finances can make this even more of a hassle. So, you have my empathy.

      1. happybat*

        Do be careful with seam rippers and embroidery – very dense machine embrodiery (particularly on treated fabrics such as waterproof/water resistent fabrics) can make a large number of small holes which will permanently mark and weaken the fabric in that area. It can be unsightly but it can also make it more prone to rip in that area. I think a patch cover is a great idea though!

        1. MikeM_inMD*

          A company I used to work for was very generous with logo items. I ended up with 4 or 5 shirts, an insulated lunch bag, and a winter jacket before I left them 4+ years ago (lay off when contract ended). I did succeed in undoing the embroidery on the lunch bag, but all those small holes make it easy for me to see where it was. I haven’t tried it on the dress shirts that are still sitting in my closet, but I don’t hold out hope for it working well. I’m holding onto the winter jacket and will use it when I retire in 6 or 7 years.

      2. I Have RBF*

        I’ve tried to remove embroidered logs before. I have been sewing for 50 years and am very adept with a seam ripper. Folks, embroidered logos chew the hell out of the fabric, and when unpicked leave a lot of holes and damaged fabric. Do not try to unpick embroidered logos! You will end up just having to cover the damage with a patch anyway, and the fabric will be harder to get smooth.

        First, measure the logo area, then buy a cute patch slightly larger. First baste it on, then sew it down. If it’s an iron-on patch, iron it on, then sew it down. (Iron-on doesn’t always last past one or two washings.)

    4. anko*

      Agree that there are many ways to try and reuse the old jacket and be acceptable in the workplace! If it’s embroidered, it’s pretty easy (but admittedly a bit time consuming) to cut the thread on the back and then pluck the thread off. You can use a iron to remove it if it’s screen printed on, or like yvve said, put on a cool patch to cover the old logo.

    5. Karo*

      As someone who has had to be the hard line on rebranded merch, OP can also just keep wearing it in non-professional capacities (though a decal/patch is a great idea if they want to keep wearing it at work). I get that it seems ridiculous when it’s “Just a different font” but I can promise you that an ungodly amount of time and thought went into that font and whether it was worth changing, and they probably have a good reason for it.

    6. JR Cmt*

      I was also coming here to suggest covering the old logo. Now if it’s a large one on the back then that might not be possible but you can get iron-on patches or take it somewhere to get one sewn on, it’s a pretty quick job so cost would be minimal. And go back to them about the size of the new jacket. I’d have done that right away.

    7. NothingIsLittle*

      This was exactly what I was going to suggest! I was anticipating a larger logo and was going to recommend fabric paint, depending on how it was printed. Or maybe the lettering could be removed? Again, that would depend on how the logo was applied to the jacket.

  8. Heidi*

    I wonder if I’m missing something in Letter 2, but couldn’t they just see what the new hire looks like when he comes in for work again? If it’s all marker, it’ll wash off and then you could tell him to take a new photo. I guess the OP could also ask the person who interviewed the new hire if he had the facial markings at that time. But I think this issue will work itself out without really doing anything.

    1. Bluejay*

      Yeah, I feel like I’m missing something too. No one in HR has at any point talked to the manager or looked at the employee? What language would they be adding to the form, if facial tattoos aren’t prohibited? “Don’t draw on your face with marker on badge picture day?”

      I don’t know if there’s been a communication lapse or what, but it seems like someone has gone from Step A to Step D here.

      1. umami*

        The HR rep at new employee orientation did see him and thought they were real. If they had cause for concern, that would have been the time to speak up, I would think.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      Yeah I’m so confused. Have they not seen this employee again since orientation? Is there some reason they can’t just… look at the employee next time they’re there??

      1. Irish Teacher*

        I was wondering the same thing and wondered if the employee is a remote worker or at a different site to the LW. They mention it’s a large company and the employee came in for orientation so maybe they are a training centre where new employees from all branches have to report to for orientation, but won’t return to again. Or perhaps the employee is mainly a remote worker. But the LW is responsible for the IDS.

        1. Green great dragon*

          LW’s HR for a company so large they have new hire orientation every week. They may not see new hire at all, if ever. But as Irish Teacher says, they are responsible for IDs so it’s reasonable to ask whether they should do something rather than rely on new hire’s management to act.

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      It seems like the definition of borrowing trouble.

      Wait until he shows up and then either:

      1. he won’t have the “tattoos” (which must have been marker or whatever in that case) any more, and say that the security photo will have to be re done now because of this, and look out for his judgement in future.

      2. He really does have those tattoos, and then there’s no problem as the photo reflects his actual appearance and the tattoos themselves are not an issue.

    4. darsynia*

      My instinct is that they don’t know whether they’d be advising an unprofessional employee or acting against someone with facial tattoos, and if the latter isn’t against policy, they don’t want to give the impression they discriminate (I’m not saying it would be illegal discrimination, just to be safe). The urgency is that this is basically a hanging chad until they know for sure, but trying to ask around might be implying the latter, which they don’t want to do.

    5. Ama*

      I think what may have happened here is that security has asked a question that reflects their own biases/lack of knowledge around facial tattoos (perhaps they just don’t realize what facial tattoos look like or can’t believe that someone who has a 9 to 5 office job would have them so they jump to “I think they drew them on” without any evidence) and because it is coming from security, OP thinks they have to take it seriously.

      While it wasn’t around facial tattoos, I’ve definitely dealt with situations where someone with authority makes an incorrect assumption they then complain or ask a question about and because of their authority people assume they must be right. Often a whole uproar ensues before someone finally sorts out that the original complaint/question was based in incorrect info.

  9. Lime green Pacer*

    #2 – I can’t help but remember the Yotsubato! story where Dad conks out from exhaustion. While he’s asleep, his daughter (Yotsuba) draws on his face with magic marker, and then tries to remove it before he wakes up.

    1. Pat*

      It’s not completely out of the realm of possibility that he went to work without looking in the mirror. I’m often at work for hours before I realize that my hair dried funny and needs fixing.

    2. Fiona Orange*

      It made me think of the episode of Friends where Ross and Rachel go to Vegas, get drunk, and write in marker on each other’s faces.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Now y’all made me think about the scene in Never Been Kissed (which I saw eons ago and thought I’d thoroughly forgotten) where Drew Barrymore’s character goes to a night club, but looks out of place there so they give her a different hand stamp that they normally do. She then falls asleep with her forehead resting on her hand, and wakes up with a big ink LOSER printed on her forehead and goes off to school like that without realizing.

        Honestly if this guy *did* party with friends the night before and have them write on his face without him knowing, that’s even worse judgment, because who does this the night before their first day at a new job?

    3. PhyllisB*

      This reminds me of a thing I read in Reader’s Digest years ago. I’m really dating myself here. A mother was resting on the couch and her child came up and was patting her face all over. She laid there just enjoying the affection. Later she answered the door to a delivery person who gave her a strange look.
      She didn’t think much about it and then she caught sight of herself in the hall mirror. Her child had completely covered her face in Green Stamps!! If you don’t know what Green Stamps are, picture postage stamps or stickers.

    4. Macaroni Penguin*

      I absolutely want this to be a situation where an artistic toddler drew on the sleeping New Employee’s face. And then unsuspecting New Employee shows up for his first day of work.

      In reality though, this is likely just a situation of poor quality face tattoos.

    5. EvilQueenRegina*

      When I was in primary school, (about 7 I think) my family used to listen to the Simon Mayo breakfast show where there was a daily slot called Confessions. One person had written in confessing to colouring in her father’s bald patch, and it wasn’t noticed until someone pointed it out at work the next day, and all the siblings got in trouble as she hadn’t owned up to it. For weeks, I was determined to try and pull the same prank on Grandad, but never got away with it. This makes me think of that.

  10. Rose*

    #4 My first thought is it is time to get the gossip train going so that everyone knows but I would not be surprised if this arrangement only works if not everyone takes advantage of it. It is really frustrating situation to be in.

    1. Not Australian*

      Yeah, it seems especially divisive to have a ‘secret policy’ which effectively advantages some staff and disadvantages others: open discussion about this is really the only way the matter is ever going to be resolved.

    2. Allonge*

      Exactly re: gossip train.

      I do wonder what they are trying to achieve with this – it’s not like anyone is uninterested in not losing PTO. Is it an option to talk to the CFO / head of HR and ask? It’s easy enough to claim that it does not make sense on the surface, and OP would like to clarify to be able to do a good job?

    3. Bilateralrope*

      My thought about this policy is that they have at least one employee who will leave if they don’t get to roll over vacation days.

      They don’t want to give this to everyone, but they also don’t want to write down anything that might be deemed discriminatory. The secrecy seems an attempt to let them blame the employees if a discriminatory pattern emerges. A plan to say that it’s not the companies fault that the disadvantaged employees didn’t ask to roll any days to next year.

      So I agree with the rumor mill. Break the secrecy, see how the company reacts.

    4. Evil Thempire*

      Please do get the gossip train going about this. Make sure even new hires find out about it.

      A while back, I worked for a “mature startup” which had switched from an informal “unlimited vacation just ask” policy to an accrued PTO policy (with a fairly stingy, but standard for the US, amount of PTO). When the policy was changed, the CEO clarified that if you needed to take a few hours off for an appointment, the system allowed you to use a fraction of a day, you didn’t have to take the whole day off.

      Cut to a year later, when between vet appointments for my aging cats, doctor’s appointments for me, and various other little bits of life that needed to happen during business hours, I had nickle-and-dimed myself out of fully half of my vacation time. I mentioned to a coworker how annoyed I was, and he looked surprised. Apparently the boss had told him, as well as several other of my teammates, not to bother with spending PTO if they were just going to be out of the office for an hour or two.

      I don’t have any reason to believe that the boss specifically intended for me, the only non-man on the team, to be the only one on my team not exempt from the PTO-for-appointments policy. The truth was, he was spreading it through informal conversation and he was much less likely to engage in informal conversation with me than he was with my male colleagues.

      1. kiki*

        Your last paragraph highlights the issue with a lot of these informal policies that require somebody to ask or be in the know– some people, often from underrepresented groups, are just going to be much less likely to ask or to know.

      2. darsynia*

        Oh my gosh this is a perfect example of what the problem is, too bad this LW couldn’t share the screenshot without confessing they’d written in, heh.

        Also, *flames on the side of my FACE* at what you dealt with!

      3. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Yep. I’d been in my job for about two years when I happened to mention to my boss that I’d be out for a half-day for an appointment. He looked alarmed and I explained it wasn’t a big deal and I’d taken a half day only because that was the smallest increment of PTO allowed – I only needed an hour or two. He said “oh, you don’t need take PTO for that! Just block off your schedule.” Um, now you tell me….and in that case it wasn’t related to gender but to proximity. I was mostly remote. The folks actually in the office had always known.

        1. Student*

          We apparently have our entire time-charging policy as handed down lore instead of as an actual policy. You never find out the whole policy – you just stumble into it by accident.

          I had a similar experience with my boss, where after working there for more than a year (in the pandemic times!) she finally told me that I could just flex a doctor’s appointment if I wanted. I have a running list of the hidden time-charging policies I’ve either heard by rumor or pulled out of my boss through trial and error.

      4. CommanderBanana*

        Ah, yes, the old “we have this perk yet somehow only the people I interact with, who all happen to look like me, know about it.”

        I am familiar.

    5. MicroManagered*

      If OP4 works in HR on the systems side, this would be an incredibly bad idea. Like “could lose your job” bad.

      1. A*

        Exactly. I’m not sure people understand the context of HRIS roles sitting in HR sometimes and requiring confidentiality.

    6. Daisy-dog*

      I think LW4 should learn more about this first. It sounds like the HR person was a little wishy-washy about the guidelines. And they likely need to ensure the system is set up properly first.

    7. ferrina*

      Yep, I’d start a full-blown whisper campaign. Track who is and isn’t getting their vacation approved and see if you can find a designated rabble-rouser to take up the issue. Most good organizations have a Socratic gadfly buzzing around somewhere

    8. Love to WFH*

      Only giving leeway to people who ask for it penalizes everyone who plays by the rules and doesn’t expect special treatment.

      I recall when my husband didn’t like how little vacation time his job had. After several years, he mentioned that in a conversation with the president, and the president said “Oh, why didn’t you just ask for some extra time off? I approve that all the time.” My husband was furious!

    9. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      My company codified it.
      You must use all your vacation.
      You can carry over 1-2 days
      You will need manager approval.
      If manager says no, then then the manager has to make sure you can use them in December.*
      Checks and balances.
      *HR sends a report to Division Head, DH breaks down report and sends to business unit, BU sends report to each manager. They do no play when it comes to making sure people use their benefits.

      1. Ama*

        This is how ours works as well (in our case we can rollover half our days, but can ask for permission to rollover more if we have a few extra), it’s in our employee handbook and they also send around emails in about mid-October to remind people who are in danger of losing days that their options are to use the time before the end of the year or put in a request.

        I also don’t know of anyone who has been denied a special rollover, at my work it gets used a lot if someone has a big trip planned the following year or knows they will need extra time for life events (I put one in the year I got married).

    10. Common Taters on the Ax*

      My company has a recently implemented policy like this, but the communication is quite a bit better. When it was announced, they said basically, if this causes a problem for you–for example because you are needed on a project in December and can’t use your accrued leave–talk to your manager. By giving the example, they made it sound like the criteria were going to be pretty strict, but my guess is in reality they won’t be. On the other hand, it still provides an advantage to those with nicer managers. (They also allowed that they’d give us a couple of years to use up large amounts of accrued PTO, so it hasn’t truly been implemented yet, except for people who weren’t paying attention to that part. I’m hoping they give up.)

    11. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      #4 reminded me of how, at a couple places I worked, the team I worked on had an “under the table” rollover. Because the corporate was like an impersonal machine that’d chew you and spit you out because rules are rules, but your boss will understand that you were fighting fires and unable to get off when you’d initially planned to, and now it is Dec 30 and your “use it or lose it” days are about to vanish. They’d tell us something like “if you want to take your remaining 3 days next year, just email me, don’t log them in the system as PTO and try to take them before March and we’re good”. Some bosses did the same thing with comp time. “Thank you for working through the weekend, you can take a day off this week to rest, don’t log, email me etc etc”

      With that said, the CFO certainly has enough pull to help make this an official policy. That they’re not even trying to do it does not sit well with me. Agree about the gossip train – maybe it’ll help turn the wheels in the right direction. My current workplace had a tiny amount of “use it or lose it” PTO when I started here ten years ago. People kept complaining and changes started happening. First our new hires got three weeks PTO at the start, instead of the former “zero PTO for the first six months and five days for the next six, two personal days and three sick days for your first year, try not to spend it all in one place”, and the rest of us who had less than three weeks got bumped to that number. Then were allowed to roll a week over, then two weeks, and now we have unlimited PTO. If enough people keep bringing it up, leaving because of it, not accepting offers because of it, things will change IME.

  11. JR*

    OP#2 – If you want to revise the form, you could use more generic language like, “Your ID picture should reflect your day to day appearance.” Or even “…your day to day appearance at the time the photo is taken” if you want to be clear no one needs to retake it if they dye their hair or whatever.

    1. Antler*

      I thought Alison was on track with the suggestion not to change the form — if there’s concern, maybe choose a time period to keep an eye out for this kind of thing happening again. Then you can make a change if it turns out that this is indeed more than a once in a blue moon fluke.

  12. David*

    For #3 is the boss saying not to wear the jacket at work, or not to wear it at all, period? From the wording of the letter I thought it was the latter, but Allison’s response and the comments seem to imply the former.

    1. Jocelyn*

      Yes, I read it the same way you did. It sounded to me like they don’t want the old logo being seen now that there’s a new one out. That sounds like don’t wear it at all.

    2. Myrin*

      OP says “I am pretty disappointed that they are saying I just can’t wear the old jacket at all at work when it fit me so well” so yeah, I’m pretty sure it’s the former (also, how would they ever enforce what OP wears in her free time, just from a practical point of view?).

    3. Allonge*

      I think it’s the former, but on a practical level it may not help OP that much.

      If OP likes to / needs to wear a jacket at work and this was a comfortable one, obviously appropriate as branded gear then it was a solution to a problem that now suddenly does not have one – OP needs a jacket to wear at work and does not have the spending money to buy one.

      Hopefully the new branded jacket can be exchanged for one that fits.

    4. I should really pick a name*

      Even if they said not to wear it at all, they’re probably not going to know what the LW wears outside of the office.

  13. GythaOgden*

    LW 1 — know the situation and yeah, it’s annoying. I love my co-receptionist to bits but she’s a bit like your old colleague and it’s taken me a long time to be able to be seen as someone other than the temp. I don’t have much advice, because someone like that can be difficult to manage (and a role I’ve applied for will actually make me my co-receptionist’s supervisor if I’m reading the job description correctly and that will be hard for her to cope with) but I can commiserate and hope that she is able to stay retired or find another gig somewhere else.

    LW3 — sucks hard. My work-branded jumpers are a nice wool-mix fabric and quite warm for their thickness, but I can’t really wear them outside work since they’re not in a normal street-clothes colour. (And because they’re NHS-branded, everyone on my bus thinks I’m a nurse and offers to show me their…no thanks sorry I’m only in admin, call your doctor if you have an issue!! It’s cute the first few times but it gets old after that.) I’ve had good luck with coats from charity shops (our version of thrift stores) — one lasted me about ten years until I wore it on holiday earlier this year and it basically fell apart, so I left it in my room rather than drag it back across the Atlantic. I’ve just bought a new gilet from eBay that was on sale at half price, because I now have to replace the old coat for the time until it’s cold enough to wear my parka. That’s the only thing I can suggest — I know it’s the principle of the thing, but practically speaking if you can’t wear it to work, you’re going to have to find another option, and sometimes you have to make do.

    I’ve totally been there being broke and frustrated with what a thrift store had to offer but…I’m not sure you can push this much further.

  14. Emmy Noether*

    #3 as a sewist, I ran down here to remark that replacing the logo is only easy if (1) the new one is available as a patch and (2) it’s larger than the old one, so can be applied over top. It is possible to unpick embroidered logos (I’ve done it), and cut the new logo out of the new jacket and appliqué it, but it’s a major pain in the a** and hard to get to look professional and not just sloppy. The way these things are usually embroidered (very dense machine embroidery) will leave the spot where they were looking pretty chewed up after unpicking. Don’t be surprised if you ask a sewist and they look disgusted and tell you no (also, pay them handsomely if they can do it and make it look good).

    1. Ellis Bell*

      Yeah, I would love it if OP updated to say that a size change or embroidery were possible, but that’s never been my experience of branded items. They usually have a very limited set of sizes with the largest one not very large at all, and the branding is all over them rather than being a changeable or coverable patch. If OP is out of luck on this one, they should at least give their feedback that the sizing on the previous jacket was so much better. Maybe it will influence future decisions about their branded items.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Hah. I was just about to complain about the buttons on one of my branded shirts being crap when I realised that the ones coming off were on the smaller ones and the buttons on the right size shirts were just fine. I’m glad I realised that BEFORE giving off about it to them. It was their fault that I was given size 14 rather than 16 (UK sizes) but not their fault that size 14 was just a little too tight across my chest.

    2. Zarniwoop*

      She mentions the cost impact of buying new unbranded clothes so I don’t think she’s required to wear the new logo, it’s just that the old logo is unwelcome.

      So all she really needs is something like a cute cat iron-on to cover up the old logo.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        OP, how about this? You can get cool ones for a couple bucks somewhere. Check with manager about it first. Is it just the logo or the color scheme? If you switched from red/orange to red/white it’s still going to indicate the old branding. You don’t want to look passive/aggressive or petulant. You just want to rock your comfy jacket, damn, let people live LOL.

    3. Frog&Toad*

      Yes please, pay your sewist, even (especically) if it’s your spouse or a friend! Most of us really just want to sew new things, not fix existing things, as noted by my spouses’ pants still hanging around waiting for a fix.

      1. Emmy Noether*

        I will only fix things that take more than 5 minutes for people I truly, deeply love (only my spouse and children currently qualify at this level, maaaaaaayyybe my siblings if they were truly in a pinch), and even then I will make no commitments on the time frame.

    4. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I work someplace that does a lot of logo’d embroidery. We can sometimes remove old embroidery, but it depends on the density and shape of the logo, the texture and sturdiness of the material, and how well a replacement logo will cover up any scarring. We cannot evaluate a logo for removal unless we can see it in person. Sometimes even logos that looked fine to remove will leave holes – if we have a dozen shave jobs, one or two will probably be unsavable. It’s very unlikely that the logo would come out clean enough to look good without covering up the spot. And some of our people are wizards at removing bad logos.

      To replicate the new logo, we’d need the specific machine file and the specific thread colors used to make it. We can re-digitize the logo, but A) that costs money and B) the density, direction and pattern of the stitches will be different. A company that cares about their branding will be be very unhappy with a logo with the wrong texture in the fill, not enough density in the text, and a slightly wrong shade of blue. I do NOT recommend an amateur attempt it.

    5. Peon*

      These were my thoughts too. If Op doesn’t HAVE to wear a branded jacket at work, it’d probably be cheaper to buy a new to her jacket or buy an unrelated patch to cover it then to pay someone to remove/redo the logo on the old jacket.

    6. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      This is the first time in all the years that I’ve read this blog that my reaction is “I think Alison is out of touch on this one.”
      If OP cannot afford to buy a new jacket to replace the ill fitting jacket with the new branding, she probably cannot afford a sewist. Custom work is not cheap. This isn’t a hem or even letting out, this is a time consuming project.
      But maybe I’m wrong about how much a branded jacket costs, too.

      1. Bagpuss*

        Yes, I think if OP wants to carry on wearing the jacket that fits then an iron on patch or patches to cover the old logo is probably the cheapest and simplest way forward.

        But if the employer provides the jackets then telling them the new one doesn’t fit and asking to return it for one which does is the way to go.

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          I was really stuck on “why can’t OP return/exchange it?” There was nothing about monogramming/name on it. Should be no big deal. Especially if she bought it herself. But I don’t know how these company branding places work.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            You generally cannot return something that has a custom logo on it to the vendor, unless it’s defective in some way. The employer could take it back and do some shuffling since it sounds like the sizes were off for everyone. But that’d be an in-person “who has size A, who has a B?” swap. But there’s no guarantee. Better bet would be someone with a bigger size who doesn’t want theirs at all offering it up.
            But again, OP doesn’t have to wear branded clothes at work it doesn’t sound like, just if they do choose to wear logo-ed clothes, they have to have the new logo. Logo-free seems to be a valid option?

      2. coffee*

        Custom work isn’t cheap, but putting a logo over a logo is pretty simple and fast. Easier than hemming. Unpicking the logo wouldn’t be, but as others have said, you can’t really unpick those kinds of embroidered logos anyway.

        Putting a patch over the logo is absolutely something you could do yourself – iron it on and then hand-sew around the edge of the patch so it’s permanently fixed on. Hand sewing would also potentially allow you to sew the patch to just the outer layer of the jacket (if the jacket has layers like that). You’d need to buy some needles and some matching thread, so there is a cost, but not too high.

        Honestly I think the biggest problem would be finding a patch that doesn’t look too casual.

  15. Nico M*

    LW2: let me get this right.

    If they’ve temporarily marked their face , thats poor judgement, but if they’ve permanently marked their face, no problem.

    1. Green great dragon*

      Yep, that’s right. LW’s org is fine with face tattoos, permanent or temporary, but wants to make sure new hire’s ID matches their usual appearance.

      LW personally does not think it’s a good look and is sharing this anonymously as it’s relevant to the discussion, but everyone is rightly acknowledging that personal views on the artistic value is not relevant to the question at hand.

    2. Ferret*

      It’s not about either of those being poor judgement, just that the appearance needs to be consistent with the ID photo for security purposes. Look how you like but keep it recognisable seems like a reasonable policy to me

      1. UKDancer*

        Definitely. I’ve worked for a company in the past which checks your badge on entry to the premises to make sure it’s you. Badges are reissued after a certain period to keep the image up to date.

        So the badge needs to look approximately like you. If the badge has facial tattoos all over but the person doesn’t then that can make it harder to correctly identify them.

      2. londonedit*

        Yep. You’ll be told to get a new passport if you no longer recognisably look like your photo, and I can imagine it’s the same here. The photo on the ID badge needs to be recognisable as a photo of the employee on a day-to-day basis.

      3. fhqwhgads*

        Neither is necessarily poor judgement in a vacuum. But if the person temporarily marked their face intentionally for the photo then that shows poor judgement because the ID photo should be consistent with the appearance for security purposes. That’s where the judgement factor comes in.

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      It does seem like pretty poor judgement to deliberately go in for security photos to be taken, knowing that their purpose is to be able to identify you, having picked that particular occasion to draw fake tattoos all over your face. Not even really because of how the ‘tattoos’ look, but because that smacks of someone not realising the larger context of requests (such as a request for a security photo) or thinking ahead. If the tattoo is a permanent part of the employee that’s a totally different situation.

    4. I should really pick a name*

      If they’ve temporarily marked their face FOR THE PHOTO, that’s poor judgement, but if they’ve permanently marked their face, no problem.

    5. nodramalama*

      Yes? Because they don’t care what your face looks like, they care that your security photo matches your face.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      If they had a birthmark on their face, that would not be a problem, but if they drew a fake birthmark on just before taking their ID photo, that would be a problem.

      1. UKDancer*

        Absolutely. My company doesn’t mind what you look like (within reason) but your picture on the ID needs to look like you do in real life, so as to make sure you can be identified.

    7. Gyne*

      Well, yes- I can understand what the OP is getting at. “this is how I look” (with face tattoos) vs “I did this silly thing for an official work photo haha!” (marker drawings) is kind of a distinction. Of course we don’t actually know new employee’s motivation (if the tattoos are fake). Also tattoos can have pretty significant cultural, personal, or spiritual meanings so I’m pretty lenient there.

      Hair dye/styles are by definition impermanent, it doesn’t make sense to have different photos for the days I do a messy bun vs braids.

    8. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      This was their ID photo. It might still be floating around the company long after he covers his face tattoos up or changes them or whatever. My ID photo from ten years ago is still up on my employer’s intranet sites, my Outlook profile, my Teams and so on. We are fully remote and my new coworkers think I look like that, yeah no such luck! I met a new coworker in person the other day and they commented that I don’t look like my photo (sigh) Point being, this is the one photo that may follow this person around for years and he intentionally messed it up.

    9. Observer*

      If they’ve temporarily marked their face , thats poor judgement, but if they’ve permanently marked their face, no problem.

      Yup. Because context matters. In a case like this, the context says that a temporary marking is either just stupid or conspiracy theory adjacent because it makes the ID photo close to useless. Either he doesn’t realize that or he’s doing it on purpose, and each one implicates his judgement in a different way.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Yup, if somebody did it just for the photo, I’d assume either conspiracy theory or somebody trying to be “edgy” and “against the man” (“hah, I’ll mess up their photo and it will be hilarious. This is the coolest prank ever!”). And yeah, even if it wasn’t deliberate and for some reason, they chose that day to draw on themselves by sheer coincidence, well, that shows a level of cluelessness that is also likely to be a problem.

    10. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I stumbled on this and “like Post Malone, but worse” because how? But that’s just me. I guess it is on the awkward scale of: new employee photo shows a big reddish spot on his forehead. If it’s a birthmark, you don’t want to say anything, but if it is a zit or an injury, you could offer a retake. But you don’t want to say, “hey, that thing on your face? What is it?”

  16. Nico M*

    LW1. This is going to be either the best or worst job ever. Your predecessor is either crackers and everyone will he delighted to see the back of them, or….

  17. Lexi Vipond*

    I’m not sure where #4 is – they kind of imply it might not be the US – but in the UK, I think ‘had too much vacation time left… and wasn’t able to take it’ would probably mean specifically ‘asked and was turned down for operational reasons’ (or ‘was pre-emptively told not to ask during a certain period’) rather than ‘didn’t get round to taking it’, or ‘felt too busy to try’. We’ve got a policy something like that for carrying more than 5 days, and I’ve seen others similar.

    I still don’t like the secrecy in this case, but it does mean it’s not just randomly applying to everyone.

    1. Rob*

      Yeah, I can absolutely see this being in the UK, where staff are typically encouraged to take their full entitlement of leave during the designated leave year. It can cause operational problems if lots of people make a habit of holding leave over but is possible if there are exceptional circumstances. It kind of feels like the organisation is happy to let people hold leave over if there’s a good reason but doesn’t want to widely publicise it in case everyone starts doing it and it causes logistical problems fitting everyone’s leave in.

      1. Bagpuss*

        If it is the UK, then for statutory leave you can’t carry it over expect in specic situations, f it’s contractual then it’s down to the contract and policies.

        Where I am, we do have a use it or lose it for the contractual leave BUT with a grace period AND warnings if you are at the ‘lose it ‘ stage (ad if the reason you couldn’t take it was because we told you not to then obviously you would not lose it, although it’s possible that you might be told when to take it if there was a pattern of leaving it to the last minute nd trying to take it on days which weren’t available. (All of which is in the relevant section of the employee handbook and yes, it is because of that One Person !)

  18. Unkempt Flatware*

    Is the title for #1 a little confusing or is it me? The replacement is the OP who is not retired, right?

  19. Angstrom*

    #1: “No one else will be able to do the job the way I do it” is not the same as “No one else will do this job well.”
    Letting go can be hard, but trying to cling on past your time is painful for all involved.

  20. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP1 (retired predecessor won’t let go) – the email forwarding incident really concerns me. It goes beyond sticking her nose in and everything having to be ‘approved’ by her (which is annoying enough in itself, I agree) but the situation here seems to be that she didn’t trust or believe OP that the VP had asked her to forward that email. She thought OP was lying and had unilaterally decided to forward it (!?) so went to verify this with the VP to make sure that he had genuinely issued the instruction. If she is allowed to stick around she will end up sabotaging OP.

    OP should probably discuss these incidents and her request with the VP and get him to support her in not wanting the retiree to come back at all. It should not be difficult to get that support as he is probably sick of her!

    1. Synaptically Unique*

      LW1 – the double-check thing was clearly stating that in her opinion LW did not demonstrate good judgement in other tasks. Definitely trying to undermine – which is also likely the reason she wants to come back. I know it can be hard to leave some roles, but hope this came to an abrupt end.

    2. Jackalope*

      And that’s especially wild because this was… forwarding an email. I know that sometimes that can be a bad look, but the consequences are generally small even if it shouldn’t have been forwarded. Since it sounds like the former employee had already seen the email, it’s also not a case of it being something super out of line (like, say, forwarding a NSFW email or something), so even more concerning that she felt the need to double check.

    3. ina*

      Yeah, the real stickler for that situation for me was LW has been working in this field for a bit so she’s not a newbie here. If LW were more new to the field or younger, I could see Lucinda’s behavior as being paternalistic — “oh, you poor sweet summer child, do you not know you shouldn’t forward emails without checking in if it’s okay?” Which is a no brainer, but some people think anyone younger than them are children who need to be monitored constantly lest they hurt themselves on the obvious. The lack of trust and not believing LW when they did explain why they were doing it is wild.

      She sounds like she can’t get over being out of the loop. Retiring is very hard for some people to do is what I am getting though. This job has been hers for 30+ years and seeing herself replaced probably isn’t easy. She *needs* to find something to convince herself that LW is gonna be an abysmal failure and the job still needs her.

  21. Alexandra*

    LW #2: This might be out there, but is there any chance this guy was pranked? You know the one where someone doodles on your face while you’re asleep?

    1. Melissa*

      If that happened to me, I would be making a huge verbal deal of it at the orientation. Like, every time I met someone, I’d be saying, “Please excuse the marker all over my face! I’m so embarrassed!” etc, and so by the time I started my job, I’d be universally known as “the girl who got marker on her face.” It sounds like he just went to orientation like normal (at least, the presenter and security didn’t know anything about it) which makes me think they’re real.

      1. Alexandra*

        I’m thinking a scenario where maybe he got up, didn’t look in the mirror before he left and because people didn’t know what to make of it didn’t say anything.

      2. Gyne*

        The times I’ve had my photo taken for a work badge I was given the badge immediately, so when I saw a badge with marker all over my face, assuming I had not inadvertently seen a reflection of myself anywhere on the way to work, I would be aghast. And would ask to retake the photo after I washed the marker off!!!!

  22. DJ Abbott*

    #3, it’s not just about finances anymore when it comes to buying new clothes. I’ve been looking for a good lightweight sweater that fits for two years now, and haven’t found one. Fit is another issue, as you’ve seen – the same size in the same brand can fit completely differently.
    If covering the old logo or getting the new jacket in a size that fits better doesn’t work out, is there a good thrift store near you? Half my clothes come from a good thrift store not just because of price, but because the selection and quality are much better. There are also uniform stores where you can buy as a member of the general public, and the ones I’ve seen have prices lower than most retail.

    1. BellaStella*

      Agree #3, with DJ Abbott, a majority of my clothing comes from thrift stores asI live in a high cost area and make enough to get by. Once a year I splurge on one new item, only, usually it is under 40$ too as I cannot afford to buy new coats etc every season etc. Good luck and I hope a solution like covering old logo with new works out.

    2. mreasy*

      I generally buy clothes from Poshmark, which is a secondhand marketplace. I find it easier to buy prior season items I know that fit – and everything is much less expensive than new. (Unlike some of the other sites, you can find everything from Old Navy to designer, it’s not all “upscale resale”.)

    3. Sleve*

      No joke, I became so frustrated trying to find sweaters and jackets that fit that I learned how to knit and sew so I could make my own, then had to learn the history of clothing manufacture to understand how to make myself sleeves that actually fit (The secret? Smaller armholes = more freedom of movement, not less). I’m not even that far from the fashion industry standard, either – I just have long arms. I despair for anyone else with non-industry-standard dimensions. My sympathies to OP.

  23. VP of Monitoring Employees’ LinkedIn and Indeed Profiles*

    “I’d have serious concerns about being able to take full ownership of the job and make it my own if we did that.”

    I would go beyond that and ask HR directly…

    “IS Lucinda actually retired? If so, then when will I be allowed to do the job you hired me to do? If not, then why did you hire me?”

    1. BellaStella*

      This is a tad bit adversarial, but agree with sentiment. Also, the reply below from zarniwoop is good.

    2. ina*

      I would tone this down a smidge although I do like the directness. I would just tone down because if they say “Oh! Well, we don’t know why we hired you if Lucinda doesn’t wanna leave. You’re laid off, I guess! Bye!” Considering that they’re entertaining Lucinda here, she seems to have pull…

      “If Lucinda is hired back, will I be able to request an updated roles and responsibilities? Much of the work Lucinda has proposed to do overlaps with the role I was hired for and I would like to be sure we’re working as a team and not stepping on each other’s toes.”

    3. EA*

      Terrible script. If I were in HR and a new hire came and said this to me – with no context about the situation – I’d just agree with them that making the hire was a mistake and show them the door.

    1. thelettermegan*

      I feel like this script is the best first response. She has left the company as planned and her position was filled. Unless there’s some serious concerns about OP1’s work so far, there shouldn’t be any need for her predecessor to get back on the payroll. At most they should only offer a consulting fee if and only if questions come up that only the predecessor can answer.

    2. ina*

      +1000 this. Do not mention ownership or that you will struggle to be able to assert yourself in anyway or that she could potentially take over and why did they even hire you?

      “It’s kind of her to offer, but she did a through job in the transition training” might be thrown in to show her work is closed out here on all ends. Mentioning they don’t need to spend extra money is probably the most compelling.

      1. Plate of Wings*

        “It’s kind of her to offer, but she did a thorough job in the transition training”

        Love this! Definitely going to adapt this to other stepping-on-toes work situations for myself. I bet a lot of us are in much less extreme versions of LW1’s from time to time.

  24. Rachel*

    1: start off by asking for feedback on your performance. What, if anything, do they think you need to change or alter?

    After that conversation, keep it very short and stick just to facts. It is okay to say you don’t want to job share.

    One thing to consider: they might not want her back, especially for a limited time. Saying this to somebody in the role this long might be very difficult, so they are using you as the fall guy. This is why it helps to shift it away from “I won’t work with her” to “I won’t job share” it gives them a way to decline her offer and save face.

    To be extremely clear: it is unprofessional for her to do this and a giant time suck to make everybody jump through these hoops for her ego. But this is the hand you were dealt.

  25. bamcheeks*

    I appreciate the corporate waste/sustainability question isn’t directly helpful to LW, but does anyone want to pick it up in a weekend chat? It’d be interesting to hear about good/bad examples of sustainability practices, especially across different national cultures.

  26. WellRed*

    I must not be awake this morning.
    No. 1: you probably should have gently tried to nip the retirees micro management in the bud but you obviously have a lot of patience. And the headline was confusing.
    No. 2: I’m missing the part where it made more sense to you to jump to “fake face tattoo”
    No. 3: did you tell your boss the jacket is too small? If you can’t get a new one, don’t wear one?

    1. AngryOctopus*

      For #3, if I got a new jacket in the same size but it didn’t fit, I’d go right to whoever was in charge and say “I got the same size as I have in OldLogo, but it doesn’t fit right. I’ll need a new one in size X.”. It’s not the LW’s fault that sizing is different in this new style! And if they really want to keep wearing the old jacket, as others have said, just sew a patch over the logo. Super easy to do even if you only know how to sew on a button.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yeah I mean that seems the easiest thing. Sizes aren’t always consistent and things like this happen. Unless you work somewhere very unreasonable I’d have thought it was fine to go back to them and say that the one you have doesn’t fit and you need a different size.

    2. Observer*

      No. 1: you probably should have gently tried to nip the retirees micro management in the bud but you obviously have a lot of patience.

      I can see why they did not do that, though. They were dealing with someone who is a *retiree*. So, the normal expectation is that you just deal with it for 2 weeks and then it’s done. If this were a long term issue, it would be different.

      Also, it’s extremely hard to “gently” nip this stuff in the bud – this is someone whose behavior is so over the top that a lot of people would have a hard time believing that things happened the way the OP is describing.

      Now that she wants to come back, things have taken a turn and the OP wants to know how to push back. It’s not really something that they could have been expected to anticipate, though.

      1. Plate of Wings*

        Agree unfortunately. With this predecessor’s personality it was always going to be “gently” or “nip”, not both.

  27. On the day he was born.....*

    LW1: Wow you have to nip this in the bud, she’ll be hovering over you like a rabid vulture with no other purpose than to correct you. A demonic Mother In Law similar to mine.

    LW2: On the plus side, he’s easy to recognise if they are real

  28. 2023 is Meh*

    #1. I left my church employer after 13.5 years to move back to FL. We hired the best we could to replace me, but she was lazy and unable to do any of the graphic design work I did (I am not a graphic designer, but over the years I learned a few things). I made a deal with the church that I could stay on two months after her hire; I wanted an income until it was cool enough to go back. My replacement couldn’t stand me, but it wasn’t because I was overbearing. She just didn’t want to deal with me. Unfortunately, over the many years, my job became such an extensive mishmash of stuff that training anyone to do it all was very difficult. Especially since she didn’t care and would not really pay attention, much less make notes.

    However, she was younger and prettier than I, and that apparently covered a lot of sins there.

    1. HonorBox*

      It doesn’t sound like this is the case for this particular letter, though. The retiree is micromanaging the situation, and it doesn’t sound like the LW isn’t picking up how to do the job. They’re following directions (forwarding the email) and the retiree is double checking with the person who asked for the email to be forwarded.

    2. Ask A Manatee*

      Maybe her morale was bad because she was being trained by someone a) who thinks nobody can do the job as well as her predecessor and b) who judges and resents people based on their age and appearance.

  29. Federal Worker Drone*

    “….every month I’d like to make a list of tasks for Jane…”

    EVERY MONTH??? I’d already be looking for a new job if this is allowed to stand.

    1. CommanderBanana*

      Also, if this is an admin job, I would imagine that most of the tasks from day to day and month to month are mostly the same, right? Which makes this even more bizarre.

  30. Anblick*

    Lw3! I worked in screen printing and embroidery for a decade before switching fields and by far your best bet for changing the old jacket is to see if you can get patches made to sew over the old logo. Your company could probably use them anyway but it will look much better than trying to remove old embroidery and it would also cover a print.

    1. Anblick*

      oh and a print shop would also be able to look up the old jacket brand/style and they might be able to order more for you. Worth checking!

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Good idea! Check the tag on the left hip, look for something that looks like a identifier (NF0A3LGX, LST650, NKDC1991, something like that or occasionally just numbers- often the first letters will match the brand), and give it a google. Corporate styles have a much longer life span than retail ones, so very good odds the product is still available.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          I wonder if the OP could even contact some of the print shops and see if they happen to have any misprinted or excess printed-with-some-unrelated-logo stock in that particular jacket in her size that they’d be interested in selling at a discount? Assuming, of course that her employer would be fine with her showing up with a logo jacket for some other industry entirely rather than their old logo.

          I have never done this, but my mother did once convince a (non-print-shop) company in the industry she worked in to donate their excess old-logo or event-specific-logo items to her wedding on the basis that the two letters in the brand’s name were also the bride and groom’s first initials, and so anything they didn’t need and had lying around would make great wedding favors. Amuses me to this day whenever I see that logo on a tap downtown. (My mother also had her wedding photos done by the photographer for the local minor league hockey team. We are not fancy people.)

  31. HonorBox*

    1: Absolutely push back when you’re asked. I think someone who is expecting to come in at all is going to make things very difficult, but given your examples, I’m wondering if Lucinda is going to spend those 8 hours asking you to go back through all of the work you’ve done in the other 32 hours so make sure it meets her expectations. It seems like both an incredible waste of time and money and impedes your ability to take on the responsibilities of the role in the way you see best.

    3: I’d go to whoever ordered and simply ask for a larger size. Point out that the jacket you had before fits well and the new one that is the same size does not. If they’re going to expect you to wear the new logo (which is their right) they need to provide the items that you can actually use. The fact that the sizing is different isn’t your fault.

    4: Yeah that’s a huge problem. Your points are all valid, and it seems like if they’re going to start letting people carry over three days (which is not many) it needs to be clearly communicated to others. If nothing else, they need to tell everyone specifically what situations would allow for someone to do the carry-over.

  32. Jessica Clubber Lang*

    I agree with the advice for #3 – I’m just curious if you meant Karl Malone, the former NBA player – but his nickname was “The Mailman” not the Postman, though I do see the confusion.

    1. Jessica Clubber Lang*

      I see now – they are two different people. What an odd coincidence though, the similarities with the “mail” and Malone.

        1. Jessica Clubber Lang*

          Not from what I recall of him, but I heard that he had later gone into pro wrestling, so I thought maybe he had changed, or worn a weird mask or something.

          It was more the “Post” and “Mail” being similar – it seemed like too much of a coincidence, but lo and behold they were right

  33. Nico M*

    LW1 . Do not be kind. They want to you say NOPE but are asking out of obselete kindneess to your predecessor.

    1. Maldon Salt*

      I think you mistake what kindness is. Kindness doesn’t mean agreeing to have her comeback. Kindness means you say, “I’m concerned that I will not be able to be take ownership of the role,” instead of, “That’s a no from me, dawg.” Always opt for kindness.

  34. Jo*

    #3 My relative changed jobs and had some very nice jackets with his old company logo, which was a competitor. He had generic patches placed over the old logo, like an American flag or some other design. Had them professionally sewn on, and it looks great.

  35. I should really pick a name*

    I don’t think you should wait for them to ask you. Let them know how you feel about the arrangement.
    You don’t want to risk the possibility that they agree to her request WITHOUT asking you.

    1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      Yes. Let your boss know immediately that your predecessor is no longer an employee. Whether she is having issues figuring out what to do in retirement or is a control freak is irrelevant. This is your job now. Your employer needs to let you do the job.

      Because it is likely they will let it happen out of kindness to her. Or in recognition of her years of service of whatever. Then she will never leave. 8 hours will become more and more over time. The whole make a list of tasks is enough to show how she will literally try to keep doing the job despite it not being her job anymore.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        And then she *will* make a wrong call on something, simply because she’s no longer in the loop, force LW to follow her incorrect instructions, and… chaos? There’s got to be a way to nip this in the bud.

  36. K*

    For number 2, I really don’t see why that question needs to be asked. Just look at their face e next time you see them.

  37. Melissa*

    For LW3, there’s a huge difference between someone wearing company gear as a uniform or in a customer facing role vs someone wearing a jacket in their office because it’s cold, no customer contact. If it’s the latter, the boss is overstepping.

    1. HonorBox*

      Except there is always a chance that non-customer contact person runs into a customer…restroom, parking lot, etc. If they’re unwilling to get a correctly-sized jacket, there is some possible reason to push back, but a company can absolutely make sure everyone is wearing correctly-branded gear in the office.

    2. Sunflower*

      Maybe they are overstepping but they can set the rules for their company as long as it’s legal. Legal doesn’t mean right/ethical but unless the OP wants to fight back and make this her hill to die on, it’s best to find solutions. The OP didn’t say if she told them about the size issue so the first thing is to speak up and ask them to order a new jacket at no cost to the OP, and then go from there.

      1. Phony Genius*

        One thing about Alison’s response is that she included a suggestion for if they won’t get the LW a better-sized jacket. But she did not include any information about how to push back if they deny the request.

        I would demonstrate to my boss how the old jacket fit versus the new jacket. And then further explain that I’m very willing to wear the new logo on a jacket that fits properly. (I had to do this when I was given a too-big shirt once. There was no way to wear it without the neck hole going over one of my shoulders. (And this was an L, which I can normally wear.)

      2. Fluffy Fish*

        This. There’s been a lot of additional commentary about wastefulness too.

        The company can absolutely mandate only wearing their own logo.

        For most employees at most employers, pushing back on either of those things is not going to end well for the employee. At best it’ll be see as a minor annoyance and quickly forgotten. At worst your employer now thinks you are not a team player and have bad judgement.

        Encouraging people to die on this particular hill is horrid advice.

        Stop wearing the old jacket. As for a new jacket in the needed size.

    3. Sneaky Squirrel*

      Disagree that it’s overstepping. Companies have the authority to set a dress code and it’s pretty reasonable to say they only want to see the new logo in the office. Sounds like employer even went above and beyond to give everyone a replacement jacket which it wasnt obligated to do (assuming gear is optional and not mandatory for the role).

  38. Ellis Bell*

    OP1, I might even go into the discussion by saying “Perhaps I should have mentioned earlier that Lucinda’s training style was to treat me as more of an understudy than like someone who was actually taking over the role. That’s why her staying on longer than the training period has me so concerned.” After you’ve gone over the fact that she made up your to do lists and has triple checked basic tasks before letting you complete them, I would be amazed if they still wanted to allow such a confusing and stalled set up. At that point I would say: “If the job role is going to permanently involve Lucinda, than the role we discussed at interview is never going to materialise at a level suitable for me. I cannot take a step down into being Lucinda’s office junior at this stage in my career.”

    1. HonorBox*

      Absolutely! As I noted in a comment above, the fact that Lucinda is creating the to-do lists and double checking even small details makes me wonder what those 8 hours will be like when she comes in. LW needs to share this with bosses, as it will create a situation where work will be slowed down or need to be redone to meet the standards of someone who was in the role before, even when those tasks are being done to the specifications and standards of those who are actually the LW’s bosses.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        > makes me wonder what those 8 hours will be like when she comes in

        For one thing, I expect Lucinda would conclude that 8 hours isn’t enough to ‘supervise’ OP, because she needs assistance at other times as well.. and before you know it, those 8 hours will expand to much more.

        I would shut this down quickly, but if for some reason I was unable to and Lucinda does come back – start treating her as your assistant, and delegate work to her (mundane tasks that you hate doing)…

  39. Sunflower*

    #3. Others mentioned patches and buttons to cover up the logo but what if it’s a large one that takes up the entire front or back of the jacket? Can anything be done then?

    Otherwise, have the company order a new jacket and just wear the old one outside of work. If worst comes to worst, can you check out garage sales or Freecycle for a new jacket?

    1. Observer*

      Otherwise, have the company order a new jacket and just wear the old one outside of work

      Have them order the new jacket, in any case.

    2. I Have RBF*

      … but what if it’s a large one that takes up the entire front or back of the jacket? Can anything be done then?

      If it’s a screen print it may be able to be removed ( If it’s a polyester fabric, don’t use acetone.

      If the design takes up the back, you may need to find a fabric panel (eg and quilt it on to the jacket over the logo.

  40. Neeul*

    I’m a bit confused by LW2’s situation.
    If the question is “Did the new hire temporarily mark their face for the badge photo?” Couldn’t that partially be solved by just…looking at their face now? I’m assuming they don’t still have the marks, otherwise the issue would answer itself. Unless the question is more along the lines of “How/Why did they do that?” which I think can only be solved by directly asking.
    Maybe I just don’t understand.

    1. Bluejay*

      Im telling myself that there’s some key fact that the LW has left out because it seems so incredibly obvious to them that it doesn’t need to be stated, and the LW just hasn’t realized how bizarre this situation seems without that one key fact.

    2. Traveling Nerd*

      My first thought is maybe the person is getting their face tattoos removed – so it might currently look like a bad marker drawing because the tattoos are unevenly faded?

    3. fhqwhgads*

      I think OP’s concern is something along the lines of “is this person a conspiracy theorist who thinks they are Sticking It To The Man by sharpie-ing their face on photo day to make themselves harder to use Facial Recognition on?”

  41. Michelle Smith*

    LW1: I would strongly consider looking for a new job if they do go forward with hiring this person as a part-time consultant. The overstepping and micromanagement of your work is not going to work long term (it already hasn’t in the short term) and you’re just going to be miserable if they don’t figure out how to let go. There are some other articles here on the site where there were situations of people not fully moving on after “retiring.” Search “our employee retired … but now she won’t leave” and a bunch of them are also linked in that post. There’s another one “How to tell a former employee he can’t visit us weekly” that’s gotten a few updates. Basically it can be hard for some retirees and some companies to move on from each other, but the bottom line is that if they don’t (and it doesn’t sound like you’re in a position to force it, only to make suggestions), you’re not going to be effective in your job, it’s going to affect your enjoyment at work and potentially you’re mental health. Get out if they aren’t reasonable.

    LW3: Even if the jacket is alterable, I’d confirm with the boss before wearing it in to work. I know with our recent rebrand, no one cares that I carry a bag with the old logo on it, but we have new merch coming out soon that’s not at all in the same color scheme. My point is that changing the logo on the old jacket might not be sufficient to fully represent the new brand in the way that the company wants you to, whether you’re client facing or not (doesn’t really matter for branding purposes unfortunately). I’d explain the situation about the ill-fitting jacket and see if there is anything that can be done to get a replacement that does fit properly and comfortably first. If not, then I’d ask them if there is anyway they’d allow you to update the existing jacket, explaining that you don’t actually have the financial resources to purchase your own unbranded jacket at this time (although I’d strongly consider checking to see if you can find one secondhand through a thrift shop or Facebook Marketplace, if that would make your life easier). But I absolutely would not wear the old jacket to work with it altered without talking to the boss and making sure they’re cool with it and not going to see it as insubordinate and an attempt at malicious compliance. Don’t waste your money before confirming it’s okay.

    1. Czhorat*

      I agree, and would go further. My thought is that at this point, after having a conflict about the jacket, OP should *not* look to alter it, de-logo it, or otherwise find a way to wear it to the office. If you do so you could be seen as continuing to escalate the jacket-war and make it appear to be, if not an obsession, at least a “thing” between you and your boss.

      There are things worth fighting over, and this probably isn’t one of them (as much as you do like the old jacket). If you remove the logo somehow and come back with the same jacket the boss might decide that you’re being difficult about it. Would you get an actual punishment? Probably not, but it’s an expenditure of political capital for something that probably isn’t worth it in the long run.

      1. Lily Potter*

        +1. I kept thinking the same thing after reading far too many replies about how to modify the jacket. If you walk in with a modified jacket (logo covered, altered, whatever) it’s saying to your boss “Okay, I’ll comply with the ABSOLUTE MINIMUM requirements of your directive but not ONE BIT MORE”.

        You may not think that wearing the new logo is important but your employer obviously does care. A lot. Figure out a way to clothe yourself such that your choice of jacket doesn’t irritate your boss. To do otherwise is a silly thing on which to expend political capital.

        1. I Have RBF*


          The reason they don’t want them to wear the old jacket is the logo. Get rid of the logo, it’s not a violation.

          There is zero reason that the LW should be forced to buy a new jacket if the old one is wearable with the old logo covered up.

          1. Lily Potter*

            As Czhorat notes, the LW won’t get fired for technically being in violation of a logo policy. But to do the absolute minimum and cover up the logo and then waltz in wearing the old jacket, it’s making a statement: “I’m willing to comply to the letter of your law bossman, but not the spirit”.

            Why be an antagonizing presence to your boss by making the jacket a “thing” between you? Spend your political capital on something that matters. The company doesn’t owe you a jacket, or pants, or shoes unless they’re part of a uniform. Find another way to keep warm. Or…….ask about getting another size jacket with the new logo, as others have suggested.

        2. Common Taters on the Ax*

          I totally agree; this is not a fight to fight even a little bit. It’s hard to believe there’s not an inexpensive second-hand jacket out there that would work. Most of us who don’t wear actual uniforms have to come up with suitable work clothes. Even if both the original jacket and OP’s body are extremely oddly shaped, there’s probably a poncho or kimono that would do.

          What comes across to me is not that this is a real problem but that the OP is mad because of a particular fondness for the jacket (color? material?) and/or because the policy seems pointless. I can’t relate to fondness for branded anything, myself, but I can see how others might feel differently. Maybe accepting that branding does have a purpose– for the company even if not for you personally–will help turn it into a smaller mental hill of beans, one that wouldn’t support a coughing fit, much less a death..

  42. CommanderBanana*

    LW#4, it is bizarre that a company would have an official leave policy but “not publicize it.”

    1. ina*

      I can sense a type that wants to reward “those who seek out information” and “take initiative.”

      Or is just flat-out cheap!

    2. Lily Potter*

      I actually get it, to a certain degree. They’re trying to find a way to allow carryovers for reasonable and/or unusual circumstances, but they don’t want it to become the norm. “I just didn’t remember to take it” is not a good reason to automatically allow a carryover, while “I have a vacation planned 10 days after my new employment year starts and it would be awesome if I could use carryover PTO then” is a different matter.

      I’ve always hated use-it-or-lose it policies since at my las three benefits earning jobs, my employment anniversary was in the late spring……meaning that any summer vacation I took did wonky things to my PTO balance and plans for the balance of the year. Luckily, I had common sense bosses at each job that helped me circumvent things and do “off the books” time off.

  43. Jarissa*

    LW 3 with the jacket:

    If your jacket is screen printed, I have had some success with this method of removal in the past.

    I bought some cheap rubbing or isopropyl alcohol. I soaked one of my old washcloths in it. I did a damage test on an inside scene of my garment to see if the isopropyl alcohol was going to change the color of it at all if I left it there for 20 minutes.

    Once I knew that it would be fine, I re-soaked the washcloth and then I laid it down on top of the screen printed area and walked away and did other things until I remembered to go check my garment. When I did, I had to do a little bit of scrubbing some persistent spots. I think I even did another round of rinsing out the washcloth and then re-soaking it and leaving it there a while longer.

    If the formerly painted area is a noticeably different color from the more weathered parts of the jacket, lots of folks have already suggest a patch. You can also get a square of the same material from the remnants bin of a fabric store, something that will hold up to your area’s weather and look pleasing to the eye with the color scheme of your jacket, and make a breast pocket or upper shoulder pocket to cover the area where the patch was. I like the gorilla glue brand of fabric glue for making sure I never have to sew the dinged thing again. More dextrous people than me could probably walk you through heat bond tape.

    I absolutely understand about needing to not throw chaos into your personal budget just because your employer decided to change everybody’s wardrobe. If I went to this level of trouble to fix my jacket to suit their standards, and someone said something to me again afterward about replacing it, I would absolutely look them in the eye and say, “I am not paid enough by this company to be able to afford brand new clothes.”

  44. Maldon Flake*

    Funny story about boilerplate language:

    I open all my cover letters with “I am excited to apply to the position of XXX“. It’s boilerplate. applying to jobs is not a thing that particularly excites me, it is just a thing that I do as a necessity to obtain a job. I assume the people reading my cover letters understand that this is boiler plate.

    I recently received a reply from a company that opened with, “I was thrilled to receive your application.” I applied to this company weeks ago, and had basically written him off. My first reaction was annoyance because I thought somebody who was thrilled to get my application would have gotten back to me sooner. Then I told myself to calm down because that was boilerplate language for them, as well.

    Isn’t it funny how I can attribute boilerplate language to myself but not to others? This is what we call fundamental attribution error in action.

  45. kiki*

    LW 2: It can be easy to get thrown off by a situation based on a weird first presentation, but you have to reevaluate the situation with what you’ve learned since then. This was brought to you by security as, “Wow, I think this guy drew on his face with marker!” But that would be very strange and based on the info you gathered from others who met him, doesn’t seem to be the case. It sounds pretty clear that this guy has some poorly-done facial tattoos. That sounds like it’s okay under your policy. I don’t think there’s any real problem to solve here or any need to add a policy. If it turns out the tattoos were indeed just marker, that will come to light on its own.

    1. Malden Flake*

      Presumably the person’s manager has met them, either in person or via video, and whatever the tattoo situation is, it will be resolved at that level.

  46. El l*

    “So here’s what you’re asking us to implement: The company standard is now 3 days carryover, but we are then to put in extra ‘architecture’ so that this is not visible to staff [writ-large]. Call it ‘confidentiality’ if you like, but we’re effectively covering up a fairly major employee benefit. A benefit we’ve clearly stated many times was not possible.

    “First of all, would you also ask me to set up an official yet off-the-books $2,000/year bonus only to those who know to ask for it? No? Because vacation time is a similar-grade compensation issue.

    “Second of all, even if this is somehow not discriminatory (opening us up to legal problems), what is your reaction going to be when this knowledge gets out to staff? Because it will, it’s only a matter of time. All you need is one guy blabbing about it while drinking. It will be seen as underhanded and hypocritical, and will undermine trust with staff far out of proportion to any money you’d save. Staff’s perspective is ‘there’s no good reason to keep that confidential’, and they’ll be right.”

    1. Daisy-dog*

      3 days of rollover vacation is not like an off-the-books bonus. Everyone received the 3 days of vacation and, by-policy, are encouraged to use those days. (And $2000 is equal to making $83/hour.) There can be company culture issues at play to make it so that the less senior staff can’t take their vacation, but that wasn’t included in the letter. And I don’t really know how rolling over the days can help with that issue. Next year, they’d have even more days they can’t take.

      Lol, at “blabbing while drinking”. Employees are going to share it while sober. Even when the policy is very clear when the exception is granted: “Because you were out sick for 3 weeks with llamapox, you are allowed to carry over only 3 days.” Other employees will start to ask, so that is when the policy needs to be clear. But I don’t think most employees will be that outraged.

      I’d definitely want clarification on the “wishy-washy”-ness of the policy. That might have only been from the HR person’s perspective or because it was in early stages. They have to do the technology piece first to ensure it works as they need it.

      1. HonorBox*

        It is an off-the-books bonus if people don’t know they’re eligible to take it. Not in the sense that the company isn’t on the hook for it, but PTO that doesn’t go away is a bonus for those employees who know that they can have it. There may be all kinds of reasons that someone can’t take their time, but saying that rolling over three days won’t help with the issue doesn’t get to the heart of the matter. Perhaps someone will, perhaps someone won’t, but if SOME are allowed to carry over time and some aren’t, there’s issues that could come up with payout of PTO upon leaving the company.

      2. el l*

        If you can roll over any vacation days, that increases the value of your PTO. Which – my point – is increasing the employee’s compensation package. Gotta look at things like health insurance, WFH, and so on in $ terms.

        And let’s be clear – if it were clearly spelled out “You can roll over 3 days”, great, no problem. That’s what I think should realistically happen here. But to take a hard line as official written policy “You can’t ever” and then do otherwise will infuriate people. They’ll rightly suspect hypocrisy – that senior staff will get it, and nobody else will.

        Just the same way as if other company compensation policies were lacking in transparency or logic.

  47. That wasn't me. . .*

    For once, I disagree with Alison. i would definitely avoid using the words “ownership” or “own” in explaining why it’s a bad idea to have Ms Retiredlady come back.This is not a territory fight, and it shouldn’t sound like this is about your ego! Say you “can’t be effective” because she will “hinder your ability” to get work done, and use the examples you have used here. (If allowed to come back, she would either effectively become your or your supervisor, or you would have weekly fights, which would make you look petty and difficult. This is the time to lay it on the line, in strongest possible language “I am sure I would not be able to last very long in thus position under those circumstances.” Don’t hedge. If you allow thus to occur, you’ll be job hunting within the second week anyway, and your reputation and mental health will suffer.

    1. Artemesia*

      This. It is always about getting the work done for the organization not your own personal annoyance. When you want something focus on the work not your comfort or personal goals or needs.

  48. Angstrom*

    #3; At my company, corporate insists that customer-facing folks wear the current logo. That’s reasonable.
    For eveyone else, clothing with older versions of the logo can be a way of showing how long you’ve worked there.

  49. rayray*

    #3 is exactly why so many people are so sick of corporate. I am surprised how big of deal this is to everyone.

    If it were me, I’d maybe just see if you could talk to your boss privately. Maybe there are extras and you could size up or maybe they can order you a new one.

    1. umami*

      I would almost guarantee they have extras, because they would need some for new employees as they bring them on board. We usually order X number of each size, not just the exact quantity and sizes we ‘think’ we need. Even if not, it shouldn’t be difficult to get the vendor to make another jacket, unless they ordered a huge quantity the price isn’t likely to be very different. Someone will surely have use for the jacket OP returns.

  50. Onyx*

    For #2, are the security badges checked for entry? That seems like the most urgent reason to resolve it, but also one that should naturally resolve itself as he comes to work and presents his badge. Either he has actual tattoos and will continue to match his photo (no problem) or the “tattoos” will disappear or fade to the point that he doesn’t match it, and security *should* have a procedure for that (presumably involving barring entry until they verify his identity and arrange for a new badge photo). The discussion about why he had temporary marks on his face and why that’s a problem could happen then.

    If Security is concerned about his facial markings in the photo because they’re not sure whether they’re permanent, then this might be a good time for them to review what they are supposed to do if someone shows up looking too different from their ID, because disappearing “tattoos” is extreme but they should be prepared to handle the sliding scale in between that and a perfect match.

    1. It's So Hard to Say Goodbye*

      Some of us switch haircolors and styles with frequency. How does security deal with this? Biometric is the way.

    1. ina*

      Seamstress is gendered and tailor, which seemingly the counterpart, implies something else to me (more general alterations, garment construction, and pattern construction than needle work).

      I think sewist is being used as gender neutral term to replace seamstress and to call out that the person’s skill set, much like a seamstress, is sewing and other things that require fine needleworking.

      1. UKDancer*

        Seamstress always reminds me of Terry Pratchett somehow and Rosie Palm running the guild of seamstresses.

        My godmother did a lot of sewing and embroidery when she was alive and she didn’t like seamstress so she called herself a “militant needlewoman and embroideress” which always made me laugh.

        1. ina*

          I love this, lol. I don’t mess with anyone who spends there free time stabbing something a thousand times over!!

      2. Gerri’s Jaunty Hat*

        Pretty sure they’re thinking sewer (sew-er), but seamstress. I’ve never heard “sewist” but I’m assuming it’s a modification for print, because sewer is a homograph. Out loud it’s still sewer though.

        1. ina*

          I prefer “sewist,” if it was up to me, after saying them out loud. Both should work when talking about it as a job. I think what comes to mind for me is things along the lines of typist, psychologist, biologist, artist, pianist, etc. But then, of course, there is writer, dancer, designer, gardener, etc. Perhaps a matter of preference but it looks like sewer is older in terms of use (taken from Grammarphobia website:

          “One who sews is generally called a “sewer” (pronounced SOH-er), a word that’s been in English writing since the 1300s. The alternative, “sewist,” first appeared in the mid-19th century, and it’s quite popular on sewing websites.”

    2. Portia*

      Not the prettiest word, but it seems a reasonable non-gender-specific term. The other option is “sewer” — and that obviously won’t do.

    3. My Brain is Exploding*

      Yes. Quilters and sewing enthusiasts have been using that word for a long time. Much better word than “sewer,” which can also mean a place of liquid waste flow. There is also “seamstress,” but that is generally a gendered word for tailor.

  51. ina*

    #5 kind of makes me wanna ask the commenters to settle a debate: is it normal for interviewers to respond to thank you emails?

    I can’t remember a time, both when I have gotten the job/internship and when I haven’t, when I have received a follow-up to a thank you. A friend insists it’s rude to not respond to a thank you. IMO, it puts the interviewer – esp the non-decision-making interviewer on a panel – in a bind when responding exactly for this reason…you don’t want to say anything to make the interviewee think its in the bag or that they’re not gonna get it.

    1. I'm just here for the cats!!*

      I think it really depends. I can totally see a smaller company sending thank you’s but in larger companies no. Especially if the people who are on the hiring committee are really busy they might not take the time. Or if there are multiple people on the hiring committee and they were all CCd on the email I could see someone thinking that another person already responded. Or who knows, maybe they have weird policies that you can’t respond to those emails

    2. jane's nemesis*

      I served on one million hiring panels at my last job. When I was not the decision maker, I generally did not respond to the thank you emails. I did not want to be responsible for setting up any false hopes or expectations. I think I did maybe once or twice if I was reasonably certain the person was the front-runner.

      When I was the hiring manager, I responded to their thank you emails to move candidates forward or to thank them in kind for their time and let them know that I wasn’t moving them forward. If someone hadn’t sent a thank you email, I just responded to our last communication from before the interview instead to let them know next steps.

      I think there was one case where a candidate asked a question in her thank you email and I responded, which sparked a conversation. That person ended up going on to be a finalist and was hired.

      (Thank you email or no thank you email never impacted my hiring decision.)

      1. jane's nemesis*

        (Even when I was responding to the front-runners, I was very careful to not say anything that might raise hopes. Just “it was nice to meet you, too!” or “I also enjoyed our conversation!” Not “I’m sure the hiring manager will be in touch soon!!”)

  52. I'm just here for the cats!!*

    #2 Could this person be of an indigenous culture where facial tattoos are part of their identity? I really don’t understand why security brought it to HR, and not loop in the person’s supervisor. Obviously, people had seen them and didn’t think it was a problem. Even if the tattoos were covered up in the interview others have seen it and it doesn’t seem to be a problem

    I can’t describe it but it feels a bit icky to me that someone thought this was marker and went to HR especially being that there was already someone from HR who saw this person and says that it does look like tattoos that were just done badly. If you want someone to speak to this person, I think you need to tread carefully.

    1. umami*

      I would even push back on saying they were done ‘badly’. If they were done how the employee wants, it’s a weird judgment to make. Like, if their child did some drawings and employee wanted to memorialize them on his face, why not? There could be countless reasons they could appear done ‘badly’ that aren’t HR’s call to make. IOW, yes, tread carefully!

    2. ina*

      Thinking it was marker is so, so bizarre. Why would a person do that? What is the more obvious answer? How did they not notice these tattoos during the hiring process and not flag them then, if it’s an issue?

      Facial tattoos aren’t the norm and I don’t know if we have any reason to believe they’re indigenous (although going back to the “what is the more obvious answer” – in our present society, these details matter when it comes to perception and benefit for the doubt given *sigh*). Someone must have seen them during the interview and found him to be a suitable candidate for the job. I think it’s best to re-frame it all as LW saying it’s not disallowed and what’s really tripping them up is the “novelty” of face tattoos in general. This doesn’t sound like it should be made into the employee’s problem. You have someone who verified they look real – marker is easy to tell from ink on one’s face. Why do we need more verification by making the guy feel like an odd duck?

      I will keep my gripes with “Security” at bay. I always find some people in that field to be overly difficult, overly suspicious, and power-trippy for no reason.

    3. Observer*

      Could this person be of an indigenous culture where facial tattoos are part of their identity?

      I was just thinking of this and also the possibility that it’s not tattoos but discoloration of some sort. There are conditions that can discolor patches of skin with various colors.

      I can’t describe it but it feels a bit icky to me that someone thought this was marker and went to HR especially being that there was already someone from HR who saw this person and says that it does look like tattoos that were just done badly

      Yeah, it’s kind of off. I get that actual tattoos or a skin condition are not likely scenarios, but in this case I think it’s just as likely are really, really bad judgement.

  53. Lily Potter*

    “Secret Vacation Policy” – I read something different into this letter than everyone else.

    I don’t think that the CEO has any intention of formally, “formally informally”, or regularly approving vacation carryover. I think that the CEO wants to option to allow it in unusual circumstances and the only reason he’s thinking about it is because the computer system is being changed. Chances are good that the CEO has been granting exceptions in the past and just wants to continue doing to do within the framework of the new HRIS system. Be glad s/he’s thinking of it now rather than after the new system is up and running.

    I’ve had several jobs with a “no rollover”/PTO expiration policy and have gotten exceptions to the policy at every one of them. In every case, I asked my boss WELL AHEAD OF TIME and documented my plan for using up the time. It had to be done “off the books” – for example, the time fell off the official books at my employment anniversary, but we just wouldn’t put in a PTO slip when I’d take a week off a month later. Of course, this arrangement isn’t going to work at every workplace but I bet it’s more common than HR people want to know.

    1. One HR Opinion*

      This is how I looked at this as well. Also when you have a use it or lose it type policy, you definitely have to guard against the everyone saving time for end of the year and/or January when that is not the intent of the policy.

    2. Ginger Cat Lady*

      That leaves the employee at risk for being written up for a violation – and because it’s “off the books” they won’t be able to show that the agreement was made.
      For the love, just let people roll over some PTO!

  54. NotARealManager*

    LW3, Just tell them it doesn’t fit. I handle a lot of the SWAG at my office and recently our order of women’s cut jackets were all about two sizes smaller than the labeling (and size charts) suggested. I would’ve thought it was just a me problem (since I’ve recently gained weight due to a medical issue), but most of the people who ordered that style reported an issue. Because of that, I was able to get a reorder scheduled or swap out jackets for those that I could.

  55. HappenedtoRossandRachael*

    #2 The first thing I thought was this guy had one too many with his buddies over the weekend and they took a practical joke too far after he fell asleep.

  56. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP3 (logo jacket) – company rebounding often happens as part of a broader change, different direction or shift of some kind. In that case someone sticking to the old logo seems (even if it’s not the reality, like for OP) to be aligning themselves to the “old” ways, resisting the change, making a statement of some sort that they are not ‘on board’ with the changes.

  57. Daniela*

    #4 My company will let you carry over vacation days – I’m not sure they can get away with offering it but not putting it in the manual. If they want to have the last say, they could phrase it as “pending final approval by supervisor”. Of course, that wouldn’t prevent the bias mentioned. At least if would get the notion out to everybody and if enough people are asking for it, it might make them realize that it can’t be fair to everybody.

  58. Daniela*

    #3 – clothing is always a hit or miss – my company has provided jackets, shirts, etc and it’s always catered to the slim people… because it’s mostly sports-inspired attire (think golf shirts and the like). Especially for the women, there is never enough room for the girls! Some of the guys need room a bit lower and that’s difficult too. While it’s nice to get that stuff for free, it’s frustrating to not be comfortable in it.

  59. Captain Swan*

    LW 3 – a patch of your choosing and one sheet of Badge Magic to attach it to the jacket with. no sewing required.

    Badge Magic is what scout parents use to attach all those patches to uniforms. Follow the instructions and you should be good to go, it lasts for a long time unless the garment is dry cleaned.

  60. JaneDough(not)*

    LW4 (PTO carryover): Given that women, unlike men, are socialized not to ask for what they want/need, this policy indirectly discriminates against women. I don’t know whether that can be presented as a potential legal liability (perhaps you can google for studies proving that women are significantly less likely than men to assert themselves), but I’m wondering.

    And even if this can’t be shown to be illegal, it’s unethical to adopt a policy that will disadvantage one already-less-advantaged group — tho your co. doesn’t sound too concerned about ethics (no offense intended; I’m saying that bc the whole policy is kind of icky , mean, and morale-busting).

  61. A*

    #4 I’d come at this from a systems perspective. You can’t configure something that does not have defined requirements and does not align with system functionality. Maybe try providing some examples of what you can configure – “we can configure a rollover for everyone who meets a specific criteria” or “we can create a process to initiate the rollover and have it approved” or whatever that might be. It sounds like your company has the beauty of being able to define your own policy and you can help steer them towards best practices so that you can support and maintain what you design.

    1. HRIS*

      This is how I would approach it as well.
      If you try the “principle of the thing” path and you can’t get them to agree that this is a bad/discriminatory idea, then try the “this will be annoying to design” path.

      Do you want PTO to never rollover, but an HRIS admin can override it?
      PTO never rolls over but an HR or benefits team person can override it?
      Create a process where workers can ask for PTO rollover exemption and it goes to Manager, HR for approval?
      Rollover for everyone who meets specific criteria, such as requiring worker to fill out a text field explaining their reason, or attaching a document?

      Even better if you can give examples of ways it’s done for other PTO plans in your system or what you’ve seen at other companies. And steer them towards the result you want by framing it as much easier to design or smoother to operate.

  62. A person*

    Logo person… ideas for you (assuming you aren’t required to wear logo’ed jackets to work):

    1. If it’s embroidered… seam ripper. They’re pretty easy to use. Just be careful you don’t catch the jacket.
    2. If it’s fairly small, you could put an iron-on patch over it (either a mending one or something fun).
    3. If it’s too big for a patch or button (like if it’s covering the whole back or something), you could sew a panel over it. Check remnants at a fabric store for something cheap. You might want to find someone with a sewing machine and some experience for that.

    You also for future might consider recommending to your employer that they get sizes to try on to let people pick their sizes since sizes can vary so much from brand to brand.

  63. Catabouda*

    Oh man. We have a very similar situation to LW1 right now. We can not get the retiree to actually go away. They hired a very competent replacement, who is doing fantastic, but retiree is insisting on staying part time until “maybe” the end of the year to make sure the replacement stays on track. It’s maddening. Go enjoy your life!

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